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Blast in AC compressor may have led to Mumbai high rise fire: Officials

The massive blaze in a high rise that killed seven people and injured 18 others was caused apparently by a blast in an air-conditioner, preliminary investigation has indicated, as the metropolis grapples with another major fire tragedy in less than a month.

The fire started following an explosion in the compressor of an AC on the 14th floor of the 21-storey residential building in Chandivali and soon spread to the upper floors due to presence of combustible materials like wooden furniture and foam in flats, a Fire Brigade official said.

The incident comes less than a month after four firemen, including the city’s Chief Fire Officer Sunil Nesarikar, died while dousing a devastating blaze in a building in Kalbadevi on May 10.

“The fire may have been caused due to a blast in the compressor of an AC. But further investigation is currently underway and the real cause will be known only when we get all the reports,” Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale said.

The fire started at ‘Lake Home’ building in the upscale suburb at about 5:30 PM. Fire Brigade deployed 15 vehicles and ambulances to put out the inferno and rescue the trapped residents.

“The flames spread very quickly to the 15th floor due to the kind of wooden furniture and foam used in homes. Inferior quality stuff act like highly combustible materials. Strong winds only ended up fanning the fire,” Rahangdale said.

He said small steps like ensuring that building ducts are sealed on each floor and fire sprinklers properly installed can go a long way in preventing such tragedies and loss of precious lives.

“One of the main reasons of carbon monoxide harming the residents on upper floors of a high rise is ducts. They need to be sealed on each floor so that concentrated air cannot go up.”

“One also needs to ensure that good quality furniture is used. There are low toxic foams and self-extinguishing electric cables that can be used,” he said.

Rahangdale said it becomes difficult for fire-fighters to reach up to floors above 42 metres and thus fire sprinklers are essential to prevent blaze from spreading.

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