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Massive fire in Deepika Padukone’s building

Asian Age 2018-06-14 04:47:00

Mumbai: Nearly 100 people were safely evacuated from a major fire that broke out on the top floors of the Beau Monde Towers, a highrise in Prabhadevi, on Wednesday afternoon.  The fire was brought under control by 8 pm and was finally extinguished by 9.40 pm. Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone, who is one of the several high-profile residents of the building, tweeted that she is safe.

While there were no casualties reported, two firemen, Harishchandra Raorane (54) and Shivaji Acharekar (53), suffered from suffocation during the fire-fighting operations and were admitted to KEM hospital. The cause of the fire is still being verified.

“The cause of the fire is not yet known. It will be found out only after detailed investigation from the fire brigade,” said Devendra Kumar Jain, assistant municipal commissioner of G-South ward.

According to fire officials, the blaze broke out on the top floor of 33-storey building at around 2 pm. The fire emanated from a duplex penthouse owned by one Harish Vabhiyani on 32nd and 33rd floors of the C wing. It soon spread rapidly in the apartment, forcing the fire brigade to declare it a level III fire.

When the fire broke out, Deepika was not inside the building. The actress who lives on the 26th floor, also has an office on the 30th floor of the high-rise. But she raised a concern about the safety of firemen as she tweeted, “I am safe. Thank you everyone. Let us pray for our firefighters who are at site risking their lives.”

After two hours, the fire was initially thought to be brought under control but it flared again gutting the entire duplex flat. Thick black clouds of smoke were seen billowing out along with flames. The fire was threatening to engulf the lower flats in the building but was finally brought under control by firemen, who climbed on the terrace and doused it with water.

“The building’s fire fighting system was working and it helped us as we could not use the water tanker hose pipes to douse the fire externally due to wind. The entire fire fighting work were carried out from inside,” said a senior fire official.

Fire higlights safety issue plaguing city’s skyscrapers
The blaze at a high-rise in Prabhadevi has once again brought to the fore the issue of fire-safety mechanisms in skyscrapers in Mumbai. Despite having a 90-metre ladder, which can reach up to 30th floor, the Mumbai Fire Brigade could not use it due to technical difficulties during the blaze at 33-storey Beau Monde building on Wednesday.

According to fire officials, the MFB had brought the 90-metre snorkel to use in the fire fighting operations but it could not be positioned near the building, as the surface was not flat enough.

“There was a ramp in the parking area, but it was not strong enough to sustain the weight of the snorkel. From the longer distance, the ladder could not be used effectively. So we had to abandon our decision to use the snorkel,” said a fire official.

They had to then carry out operations by climbing up to the terrace, from where they started dousing the fire with the help of the building's fire fighting system, which was in working condition. The entire operation was carried out manually, in which two firemen were injured, and had to be hospitalised due to suffocation. Along with a 90-metre ladder, the MFB also has a 70 metre hydraulic platform in its armoury to fight blazes in the city’s high-rises. Besides the civic body has also decided to buy another 81-metre snorkel at the cost of Rs 15.70 crore.

According to the civic officials, as Mumbai is made up of islands, the city is growing vertically as there is lack of space. There are presently 6500 high rises in the city, where fire fighting and rescue operations are always cumbersome and difficult. In last few years, several buildings above 70 metres have been constructed in the city.