Mumbai : Within 72 hours of the massive fire that claimed seven lives and injured 25, a blame game has begun. Residents of the ill-fated Lake Lucerne building allege that a severe lack of coordination between fire officials and a delay in reaching the spot were two reasons, among others, why so many people died in the blaze.
Speaking to FPJ, Mazhar Thakur, the chairman of Lake Lucerne Cooperating Housing Society, said, “We informed the fire brigade at 5.06 pm and they reached the spot at 6.05 pm. We had specifically informed them that it is a high-rise and that the fire has taken place on the 14th floor, but they still came without a snorkel ladder.”
He added that the fire officials came with an empty water tanker, and another team of the fire department came sometime later with water and the snorkel ladder. Even bystanders allege that there weren’t enough ambulances to take the injured to the hospital, and some of the injured were rushed to the nearby Hiranandani Hospital in police jeeps.
Thakur further alleged that the firemen were confused; they had neither gloves nor masks and wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what they have to do. “It’s the people from nearby slums and volunteers of local groups who helped in rescuing the people,” he alleged, adding that the CCTV camera at the building gate had captured who was doing what.
However, Chief Fire Officer PS Rahangdale has refuted the allegations. “We received the call at 5.32 pm in our control room and at 5.53 pm, we were at the spot. We reached the spot in 21 minutes, despite the traffic on roads and narrow lanes.”
He added, “It’s standard operating protocol that in case of a fire in a high rise, we immediately dispatch a snorkel ladder, an ambulance and a fire engine along with a water tanker. Why would the fire brigade take an empty tanker along?” he asked.
Moreover, he said that four bodies were found inside a stalled lift. “Despite knowing that nobody should use lifts during a fire, people got into the lift and got stuck when the power supply went off,” he said. “Moreover, fire safety doors and some other measures were missing, which could have contained the fire and would have stopped it from spreading. We will check what measures were suggested and what had been implemented,” Rahangdale added.
However, the society chairman has claimed that he got the D Form from the authorities not more than three months and has even received an NOC from the fire department.