A major fire broke at the British era on the ground floor of four-storey Kothari mansion popularly known as the Light Of Asia restaurant Fort, around 4.24 am on Saturday. No casualties were reported in the incident.
The 80-year-old building was vacant at the time of the incident and the South portion of it collapsed during the firefighting operations. According to officials of Mumbai Fire Brigade, a serious tragedy was averted as a group of firemen involved in firefighting operation had moved to a safe distance just a minute before the portion of the building had collapsed on the two fire vehicles where they were standing.
It was a C-1 category (extremely dilapidated/dangerous) Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) cessed building. The housing regulatory body had vacated the premises two years ago. Such (C1) buildings need to be vacated and demolished for reconstruction. There is no clarity why MHADA failed to demolish the dangerous structure in last two years, putting lives of thousands of pedestrians in danger. Many passerby and hawker used the gap between the pillars of the building’s ground floor as a temporary footpath. “The MHADA, it seems had put the onus of getting the building demolished on the owners (NOC holders) of the building Nagraj Jain and others. The building had wooden propping on all the floors, leading to the fire spreading rapidly across all the floors,” said a senior BMC official.
While no casualty was reported, two firemen on the turntable ladder(TTL)sustained minor injuries in the incident and were rushed to a hospital. Fire officials said that no one was trapped inside the building as the structure was vacated. Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) had put 16 fire engines into firefighting operation along with 150 laborers. They managed to control the fire after four hours of struggle. However, the fire is yet to doused off.
“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.”