‘We rushed out, corridors were filled with smoke’: Residents of Tardeo building

Published on Jan 22, 2022 04:04 PM IST

The fire that broke out on Saturday morning in the Kamala building in South Mumbai claimed six lives and injured 15. The residents said most of them were asleep when the incident occurred.

After the fire broke out, the residents took refuge inside the banquet hall of Matru Mandir society which is just adjacent to the Kamala building. (PTI Photo)
After the fire broke out, the residents took refuge inside the banquet hall of Matru Mandir society which is just adjacent to the Kamala building. (PTI Photo)
ByPratip Acharya and Vinay Dalvi

MUMBAI: The residents of Sachinam Heights (known as Kamala building in the vicinity) in South Mumbai said the fire in the high-rise that killed six persons and injured 15, broke out around 7 in the morning while most of them were asleep.

The residents said the fire probably began inside the wire duct that runs between the ground and the top floor of the 20-storey building.

They also added that while the fire was confined between the 19th and 20th floor only, the entire building got engulfed in smoke and visibility became difficult for them.

“I opened the door at 7 am to collect the milk that was delivered by the milkman. I saw the entire corridor of my floor filled with thick smoke that was coming out from the wire duct. We understood there must have been a fire outbreak, we woke up the remaining members and rushed out of the building,” said Nanda Chavan, a resident of the fourth floor.

Chavan’s sister, Shubhangi Salkhar along with her husband Dilip and ten-year-old son, Dhaval is admitted at the Bhatia hospital at present. Chavan said that her sister and her family reside in the 13th floor of the building.

“After we came down, I started to look for my sister and her family members but couldn’t find them. After half-an-hour, we saw fire brigade personnel bringing them down,” she said.

Kamlakar Dalvi (64), a member of the managing committee of the building who stays on the fourth floor said that the fire broke out around 7 am in the morning and during this time most of the residents were fast asleep.

“The morning water comes between 7-8 am regularly and I was going to check the water valve when I saw smoke and heard screams from our neighbours as well. We alerted the remaining flats on our floor and managed to get out of the building, the fire brigade arrived around 7:30 am and started the rescue operation. As most of the members were sleeping, rescue operation became haphazard as many of us had to go door to door and alert the people,” said Dalvi.

A resident requesting anonymity said that the building was built in 2013 and between 2013-2016 there was an ongoing court case between the builder and some tenants that used to live on the plot earlier. The building is a redevelopment project and the plot on which it is built used to be a slum area once, where Dalvi used to live earlier.

After the fire broke out, the residents took refuge inside the banquet hall of Matru Mandir society which is just adjacent to the Kamala building. Nearly 200 residents are staying inside the banquet hall at present and member of the Matru Mandir society have arranged basic civic amenities and food for the victims. Also, many residents shifted to their neighbours’ and relatives’ places that were nearby.

“There were fire extinguishers in the building but most of the residents didn’t know how to operate it so we had to rush out. Also, the fire safety alarm wasn’t working and we couldn’t hear any warming bell,” said Dalvi.

Another resident, Vijay Aperaj (61) said that after the fire broke out, inside the building it became dark as the electricity got cut off.

“All the electrical appliances stopped working and we opened the doors to check. We saw smoke coming out of the ducts and also felt a burning smell. We rushed out from the building immediately with all our family members and the interiors became suffocating as well,” said Aperaj.

There are two refuge floors inside the building, each on the eighth and the fourteenth floor. However, Dalvi said that the residents preferred to go downstairs instead of going to the refuge floor. There are 135 flats in the building and in each floor, there are eight flats. Four of which are 315 square feet and two flats of 225 and 250 square feet each. Considering there were eight flats in each floor, the entire building was quite cramped up and there was not much space between the flats.

The building is located in a lane adjacent to the Tardeo Road. The fire fighting vehicles were parked at the entry point of the lane from where the pipelines were pulled inside and evacuation operation was carried out.

A senior fire brigade official, present at the spot said that even though the exact cause of fire is yet to be ascertained, the preliminary findings suggest that there could be a short-circuit inside the wire duct of the building.

“The fire system was defunct and two flats have been severely damaged and there have been some serious loss of properties as well. The fire system in the building was defunct. Had it been working then the proportion of loss occurred could have been lesser,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the Gamdevi police has registered an accidental death report (ADR) in connection with the incident.

We have registered an accidental death report (ADR) in the matter, as six people have died and several others have been injured. We will write to all concerned departments like fire-brigade and BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) and depending on their reports decide further course of action,” said senior police inspector, Rampyare Rajbhar of Gamdevi Police station.

“We are presently recording statements of the victims and eyewitnesses and also doing spot panchnama,” said the police officer.

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