Kamala Mills blaze in Mumbai: Experts say hookah embers alone can’t cause such a fire | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Kamala Mills blaze in Mumbai: Experts say hookah embers alone can’t cause such a fire

If forensic experts are to be believed, coal embers alone cannot be the cause of a fire of such magnitude unless it has been combined with hydro-carbons.

mumbai Updated: Jan 30, 2018 10:11 IST
Megha Sood
A  massive fire at  Kamala Mills in Mumbai burnt down two resto-bars on December 29.
A massive fire at Kamala Mills in Mumbai burnt down two resto-bars on December 29.(HT File)

What started the fire, that gutted two restaurants at Kamala Mills on December 29? The question has not been answered conclusively.

Could embers from a hookah have started the fire? If forensic experts are to be believed, coal embers alone cannot be the cause of a fire of such magnitude unless it has been combined with hydro-carbons such as petrol or petroleum products or comes in contact with such products.

The Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) at Kalina, has been given 250 samples, collected from the gutted restaurants at Kamala Mills, to analyse the cause of the fire. Although it is yet to submit its findings, government sources said there has been no scientific evidence to prove the fire started because of the coal embers from a hookah. There is also no evidence to suggest any petroleum product was mixed with the coal.

“Although it has to be studied, the coal embers must have been exposed to some liquid inflammable substance like petrol or petroleum products,” said MK Madve, former director, FSL. He also said traces of any petroleum products may have been washed off the spot from where samples were collected during the fire-fighting operations.

Professor Bhaskar Thorat, who heads the chemical technology department at the Institute of Chemical Technology, agreed that hookah embers must have come in contact with some inflammable material such as alcohol, which was readily available at the restaurant. The curtain which allegedly caught fire due to the embers also may have been attached to something made of polymeric foam or low-quality wood which is highly combustible, he said.

Dr Harish Pathak, head of the department of forensic medicine and toxicology at KEM Hospital said 14 persons lost their lives in the fire due to carboxyhaemoglobin – a condition induced by inhaling carbon monoxide, which is produced owing to highly inflammable material used in renovation materials such as plastic or low-quality wood.

“At times, forensic results cannot be concrete as samples may not be specific to the area where the fire started,” he said.

However, patrons of Mojo’s Bistro told the NM Joshi Marg police that all they saw was the ‘nylon’ curtain burning, “The patrons of Mojo’s Bistro have said that the fire did start in the restaurant,” said an officer from the NM Joshi Marg police station, requesting anonymity.