A major tragedy was averted at the Dahisar Jumbo Covid Centre, Check Naka, on Sunday as 50 Covid patients were evacuated just in time, after a minor fire broke out in the afternoon. No one was reported injured in the incident, but according to an official, at least 50 patients were undergoing treatment at Hangar (Section) F of the centre which caught fire.
While the fire which was classified as level 1 (minor) was doused within half-an-hour, patients were immediately evacuated and shifted to another hangar in the centre as a precautionary measure. The situation had the staff and the patients panicking, sparking memories of the massive fire at Sunrise Hospital in Dreams Mall at Bhandup last month, in which 11 Covid patients lost their lives.
While the Mumbai Fire Brigade control room said that a short circuit may have been a factor for the fire, the staff at the Dahisar Covid Centre said it was not a short circuit. “The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, it was definitely not an electrical short circuit. As soon as the fire was doused, staff and firefighters checked the spot and found all the wires and electrical equipment to be intact. Prima facie it looked as if someone threw something or something fell from the roof... We are investigating. Patients are all safe and shifted to another section which was ready,” said Dr Deepa Shriyan, dean-in-charge, Dahisar Covid Centre and Associate Professor, BYL Nair Hospital.
“Without thinking for a second our staff began evacuating the patients, ensuring their safety. It was challenging even for the staff. The relief was that the fire was minor and doused in half-an-hour and the patients were all shifted to safety immediately,” added Dr Shriyan.
The fire was put out by firefighters and the security staff using fire extinguishers that had been installed at the centre. According to the officials, the fire broke out at noon, on Sunday. Fire brigade officials said from Hangar F, the fire spread to Hangar G, where another 49 patients were admitted.
“The fire was first reported by the ward boy on duty at the Hangar F. It was put out with the help of firefighter Lakshman Landge and Ravindra Mahto, a private security guard at the centre, within 30 minutes. The patients from Hangars F and G were immediately rushed to Hangar C and electric supply was cut off to prevent any further damage,” said Prabhat Rahangdale, Director-Maharashtra Fire Service and BMC Deputy Municipal Commissioner-Disaster Management Unit.
This is not the first time a mishap was averted at the centre. On October 29, 2020, a small short-circuit in medical equipment installed next to the bed of a patient had caused a minor fire. In that instance too, the staff managed to douse the fire. The video of the incident had immediately gone viral on social networking sites and the BMC had put out a tweet praising the staff for their alert and quick action which had averted a mishap.
Disturbingly though, this is the fourth such incident in the last six months. The fire at Sunrise Hospital was the second such incident in a Covid hospital in the Bhandup-Mulund belt in the last six months. In October 2020, two patients had died while they were being shifted after a fire broke out at Mulund’s Apex hospital due to a short circuit in the generator at the hospital.