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Fire in Income Tax office at Scindia House in Mumbai; six rescued from upper floors

The fire started around 4:50 pm on the third floor of the Scindia House building that houses the Income Tax office and the Debt Recovery Tribunal

mumbai Updated: Jun 02, 2018 00:32 IST
Mumbai,Mumbai fire,fire in Scindia House
The fire broke out around 4.50pm and was brought under control at 6.45pm.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A major fire broke out on Friday evening at Scindia House, Ballard Estate, which houses the income tax department’s investigation wing and debt recovery tribunal (DRT) offices.

Six people were rescued from the building, while one fire fighter, Yashwant Dagdu Balsa, lost consciousness due to the lack of oxygen. All seven were rushed to St George Hospital in Fort.

The fire broke out around 4:50pm, and was declared as a level-4 (major) fire around 7.20pm. It was confined to the third and fourth floor of the six-storeyed building. Eight fire engines and six jumbo tankers were rushed to the spot. The fire was contained around 6:45pm, said a fire official.

“We cannot say the fire is doused. Intense heat and smoke can recreate sparks inside. The building is old and congested. It was difficult to move around inside. We are investigating the cause of the fire,” said PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer.

The fire brigade, which is still investigating the cause of the fire, has not yet made an official comment on the origin of the fire.

The fire brigade arrived at the spot at least 30 minutes after the call, said employees that had already vacated the building. Milind Khatu, an employee of DRT, said, “If the fire brigade had arrived on time, the fire would not have increased so much.”

Manishankar Tiwari, who works as a guard, said, “I was told that there is a short circuit in an income tax commissioner’s office. We rushed there and tried to douse the fire, but it had spread rapidly due to the amount of files and papers. Everyone panicked and vacated the building.”

There was speculation that sensitive investigative documents – including those pertaining to Nirav Modi, fugitive Indian businessman – may have been singed in the fire as the site included the income tax investigation wing. When Hindustan Times contacted A A Shanker, director general of income tax (investigation), Mumbai, he said, “All files related to the Nirav Modi case have been sent to the Central government.” On being asked if no files were there in Mumbai, Shanker said, “That is all. I cannot comment.”

Idzes Kundan, additional municipal commissioner, told HT, “The cooling operations will go on till Saturday morning, maybe even till evening. We do not know if any important income tax files have been damaged.”

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 18:50 IST