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Major fire in SoBo home of industrialist kills two

The fire broke out in a duplex flat owned by Shekhar Bajaj, chairman and managing director of Bajaj Electricals Limited

mumbai Updated: Oct 18, 2016 22:51 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Shekhar Bajaj,Maker Chamber

Two people died and 14 others were rescued in an early morning fire at Maker Towers (Wing A) in South Mumbai’s posh Cuffe Parade. The fire broke out in a duplex flat owned by Shekhar Bajaj, chairman and managing director of Bajaj Electricals Limited.

Bajaj lives in the duplex along with his wife, son, daughter, daughter-in-law and one-year-old grandson.

The two people who died, Pradeep Kundar, 22, and Ajay Ram, 30, worked as house helps with the Bajaj family. The two were taken to St George hospital, where they were declared dead.

Family members of Shekhar Bajaj, in whose house a fire broke out, being evacuated. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT)

Officials said the fire broke out around 6.30am in the electrical switch board in the servants’ quarter on the 20th floor and spread through the electrical duct, killing Kundar and Ram, who were said to be sleeping in another servants’ quarter on the 21st floor at the time of the incident. Officials said the fire would have been caused owing to a short circuit in the main board. “The brigade will conduct a detailed investigation on the cause of fire,” a fire official said.

According to officials, Kundar and Ram died before the brigade could reach the spot. They suffered 45% burn injuries and died owing to excessive smoke inhalation.

Bajaj said, “It is a fact that the fire took place, but what it important is that the family is safe. We also went to the hospital to get a check-up done after the incident. It was a bad incident.”

According to officials, seven members from the two flats and another seven from the neighbouring flats were rescued by the brigade. Officials used a 70-metre snorkel, eight fire engines, six jumbo tankers, one breathing apparatus van and one ambulance for the rescue operations. The flames were brought under control by around 9.15am, officials said.

Officials also cut off electric supply to the building.

Prabhat Rahangdale, chief fire officer, said, “The building’s fire-fighting system was operational, which helped us rescue as many people as we could and avert major property loss.”

The two flats, 201 and 211, are connected by an internal staircase, with each house measuring 3,000 sqft each.

Residents said there are three flats on each floor and only the Bajaj family owned a duplex flat. The 25-storey building also houses well-known names such as writer and author Shobhaa De.

A senior civic official said, “The family rushed to the gallery and started making frantic calls when they noticed the flames. Unfortunately, it was too late to rescue the two servants. The brigade also broke the glass door separating a passageway from the hall and other rooms for their rescue. The servants’ quarters was completely charred.”

Around five years ago, a gymnasium in the building’s ground floor had also caught fire, residents said. Ajay Jain, the building’s secretary said, “We could not trace the cause of the fire at that time. However, the building underwent a fire audit recently. Even on Tuesday, the internal fire-fighting was working fine.”

In 2012, a fire gutted the 19th floor of Jolly Maker Towers, a residential building in the same locality. However, no one was injured in the incident.

First Published: Oct 18, 2016 11:39 IST