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Prabhadevi tower blaze rages 4 hours, guts infotech investor's penthouse

Mumbai, Jun 14, 2018

MUMBAI: Fire broke out in a duplex penthouse at Worli's plush Beau-Monde Towers shortly after 2pm on Wednesday, and raged for over four hours, gutting the apartment. There was no one in the flat except the owners’ domestic help, who escaped unhurt. The flat’s owners, business couple Harish and Roopa Fabiani, are NRIs who live in Spain.

Though the fire didn’t result in any casualties (except for two firefighters sustaining minor injuries), it once again highlighted the city’s lack of preparedness when it comes to highrise blazes: Almost the entire firefighting operations were conducted using the building’s own firefighting system, while the fire brigade’s much-touted 90-metre hydraulic platform ladder, though brought to the site, could not be pressed into service as it faced problems of access.

A fire brigade source said that prima facie, a short circuit could not be ruled out as the cause of the blaze, though a probe has been ordered to formally ascertain the reasons.

The fire brigade got a call from the building close to ten minutes past 2pm. Its personnel reached the site in a few minutes and shot straight for the penthouse, which is in Tower B (in all, BeauMonde has three towers). Shortly after, 95-odd residents emerged out of the tower and gathered around the main gate of the premises. A fire officer said several residents from the other two towers too reached the ground.

I am safe.Thank You everyone.Let us pray for our firefighters who are at site risking their lives...🙏🏽 — Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone)

Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone, who owns a flat at BeauMonde Towers, tweeted around 5pm, assuring fans of her safety. “I am safe. Thank you everyone. Let us pray for our firefighters who are at site risking their lives...” read the tweet.

Firefighters faced an uphill task battling the blaze. Besides intense heat and smoke, they had to contend with strong winds at the height they were carrying out their operations. Every time the fire seemed to have been put out, it revived with renewed vigour. It was only about 5.30pm, almost three and a half hours after the blaze started, that the fire brigade could more or less bring the blaze under control. It took them about an hour more to begin cooling operations.

The tower’s power supply has been disconnected. An officer said it will be restored after a detailed examination. He said the building’s firefighting system was in good condition and that is what was primarily used to control the fire. More than 2 lakh litres of water was used up, some of it coming from the fire brigade’s water tankers.

Chief fire officer P S Rahangdale said, “The internal firefighting system helped tremendously to contain the fire. All highrises should maintain their firefighting equipment in a good condition.”

A resident said, “As soon as we came to know of the fire, we switched off the electric and gas mains.”

Local MLA Sada Sarvankar, who was at the spot, blamed the BMC’s building proposal department for sanctioning highrises though the city’s layout and also the fire brigade’s limitations makes tower blazes difficult to fight. He said he would place a calling attention motion before the state assembly during the monsoon session, demanding that no permission should be given for a highrise unless there is proof of fire safety and assurance from the fire brigade that they can battle blazes with their own equipment.

The police too were at the site and maintained a bandobast. “We will conduct a detailed panchnama," said an officer. The building’s security personnel could be seen managing crowds and barring people from entering no-go zones of operations.

Prabhadevi tower blaze rages 4 hours, guts infotech investor's penthouse
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