A major fire broke in British era ground-plus-five storey Kothari building ( also known as the Light Of Asia) Fort, around 4.30 am on Saturday. No one sustained any serious injury in the incident.
It was an unoccupied building and portion of it collapsed during the firefighting operation.
Officials stated that serious tragedy averted as a group of firemen involved in firefighting operation had moved to safe distance just before the portion of the building collapsed on the two fire vehicles where they were standing.
Two firemen on a ladder sustained minor injuries in the incident and were admitted to a hospital.
Fire official said that no one was trapped inside the building. Firemen had put 16 fire engines into firefighting operation to ensure that it should not spread in neighbouring buildings. They managed to control the fire after three hours of struggle.
It was a C-1 category (most dangerous) building and the state government authority, Mhada had vacated the premises four year ago. Such buildings need to be demolished for reconstruction. There is no clarity why Mhada failed to demolish the dangerous structure in last four yeas, putting lives of thousands of pedestrians in danger who passes from the building regularly.
There were gaps between the building’s pillars and the shops on its ground floor. The gap between the shops and the pillars were used as temporary footpath by pedestrians and hawkers.
The building was empty and no one was living inside said a BMC official.
Assistant municipal commissioner Kiran Dighavkar said, “The fire started from second floor of the building after which half of its portion collapsed.”
BMC with the help of Mhada may demolish remaining portion of the building. The building is situated on a busy road outside CST railway station, and BMC deployed vehicles and labourers to transfer the building debris to another location to avoid inconvenience to motorist.
“One fire engine and Areal Ladder Platform extensively damaged after debris fell on both the vehicles, during fire fighting due to sudden collapse on southern portion of the building. Both firemen Mane and Deolekar were stuck in the cage/cabin of Ariel Ladder Platform which was in operation to control fire from spreading to the adjacent buildings. They were immediately rescued by using another ladder,” said Prabhat Rahangdale, chief fire officer Mumbai Fire brigade.
Rahangdale added, “Timely order and flashing SOS to carry out fire fighting operation from safe distance and also decision to withdraw water jets operating near the building, just a few minutes before the collapse and concentration on adjoining building to restrict the crowd averted major disaster and loss of life of the crew of both the damaged Fire brigade vehicles.”