There was delay in carrying out the firefighting work as fire engines could not enter the mishap spot due to the presence of a wall alleges local residents.
A major fire broke out from a slum on Akurli Road, Damunagar area of Kandivali in which two persons were dead and 11 injured. Injured persons have been admitted to a nearby hospital. Sixteen fire tenders were rushed to the spot by the Mumbai firefighting department for dousing the fire. According to fire department officials’ fire erupted due to multiple cylinder blasts. The place is said to house a godown of various items. There was delay in carrying out the firefighting work as fire engines could not enter the mishap spot due to the presence of a wall.
“Our department received a call at about 12.33 pm and another message at about 12.51 pm about the fire. Immediately 16 fire engines, 12 water tankers, five fire brigade officials along with other jawans were rushed to the spot to douse the flames,” Deputy Chief Fire Official P S Rahangdale said.
“Our primary job was to douse the fire with minimal impact and it will take sometime to ascertain the details and the cause of the blaze,” he said.
Anwar Shaikh, a local resident said, “The fire engine was unable to enter the area where the fire incident occurred due to the presence of a wall restricting entry of vehicles. Vehicles could enter only after a portion of the wall was demolished. Fire brigade could have prevented major mishap if the area was easily accessible. There is an alleged nexus between the builders and local politicians as they had encircled the entire area by constructing walls.”
Gautam Korde, a social worker said, “Most of the people staying in the area belong to labour class. Since Monday was a working day most of them had gone out for work. Even children had attended schools and only elderly persons were present in the house. If residents were present in the house then many more causalities would have occurred.”
Ravi Hirve, Bahujan Ladau Sanghatan President said, “The residents have lost all the documents proving their residential and identity status. So the Collector should form a committee which should include some people staying in the area where the incident occurred. These members can accurately establish the credibility of victims so that genuine persons can receive compensation.”
Shiv Sena, MLA Prakash Surve said, “I had spoken to Collector, ministers and rehabilitation officials, BMC, fire brigade and have called 18 to 20 fire engines to douse the fire. We had also called ambulance for taking the injured to hospital. Five huts have been gutted in fire. The people living in slums at Damu Nagar are yet to be rehabilitated. When people are eligible to get houses under the slum development scheme then why are these people denied homes.”
BMC Commissioner, Ajoy Mehta said, “I had went to the accident spot for overseeing the relief work. I had asked the local corporators to take necessary steps for carrying out the firefighting work. I had also asked them to provide the basic amenties to the victims at the earliest.”
Local residents have also reported of multiple explosions, probably triggered by LPG cylinders, in the area. The cylinders were stored illegally in a godown which is situated near to the Western Express Highway.
“The deceased person was charred beyond recognition and has not been identified yet but the injured have been admitted to nearby Shatabdi hospital,” DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni said.
Residents living in the neighbourhood stated that they heard sounds of several explosions. “There was loud noises of blasts every 2-3 minutes. Shortly after the blasts people were evacuating the area,” said Rasika Parab who is a resident of Damu Nagar.
Meanwhile, police cordoned off the area and were trying to verify the claims of the locals.
The extent of damage could be huge as the area is densely populated. A fire department official described the incident as category 2 fire. According to fire safety code, category 2 fire is when more 15 firefighting teams are pressed into service. Television images showed huge black smoke billowing out from the slum area. Several hutments were destroyed in the fire. The fire started at one hutment and later it spread to others.
The deceased have been identified as Prahlad Kharat (45). The injured persons have been identified as Sumitra Bhanudas (30), Rama Sunil Kamble (54), Sonu Gupta (24), Nazir Shaikh (35), Asha Ugde (26), Jayki Kagda (25), Vaishali Maske (28), Suresh Tendikeri (31), Suresh Kishen (22) and Sonia Rajesh Singh (8).