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Mumbai: Over 60 shops were gutted in a major fire that broke out in South Mumbai’s busy Crawford market due to a short circuit in the wee hours today. Fire officials said there was no casualty reported in the blaze. “Our control room received an alert at 5.23 AM today that a massive fire broke out at Crawford market. Soon 10 fire tenders and eight water tankers were pressed into action,” a fire brigade official told PTI.

“The fire was brought under control by 8 AM. Preliminary probe suggested it was caused by a short circuit. Over 60 shops, mostly of perfumes and packaging material, were destroyed,” he said. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and Mumbai Mayor Snehal Ambekar visited the spot and interacted with shop owners whose shops were gutted.

Some of the them alleged that the fire department did not take their call seriously. “Had the fire department taken our call seriously and swung into action immediately, the loss could have been minimized. Our repeated calls to 101 went unanswered and we had to report this incident to 100 (police number),” Mahatma Phule Dukandar Sewa Sangh president Ratnakar Karale said.

Mayor Ambekar, however, said “as per my knowledge, all the machinery with entire force was present here (in the market) to douse the fire. But, if there is a need to upgrade the system, then I would discuss it with the Municipal Commissioner.”

Meanwhile, NCP slammed the Shiv Sena-BJP controlled civic body, saying it was not prepared to deal with such situations and demanded the resignation of the Municipal Commissioner. “We don’t need a smart city, we need a safe city first, which the government and the Municipal Commissioner failed to provide,” NCP spokesperson U P Singh said.

“When the (civic) commissioner can’t keep his own market safe which is a throwaway distance from the (BMC) headquarters, then how can he provide safety to a common Mumbaikar,” he asked.

Built in 1869 during the British rule, Crawford market is one of the oldest city markets. It is currently under restoration by the heritage committee.

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