Mumbai: On Monday, when the city was busy with the Lok Sabha voting, a major fire broke out at Big Bazaar in Matunga (W) on Monday evening. The fire erupted at an outlet located on Tulsi Pipe Road in Matunga West at around 4.15 pm. After reviewing the fire call, eight fire tenders, seven jumbo water tankers, one breathing app van and a quick rescue vehicle were pressed into service.
When the fire seemed to be under control, suddenly one after another, two blasts took place inside the shopping centre, which further fuelled the fire. Due to the voting process, Big Bazaar was kept close for the entire day and it was supposed to reopen at 5 pm, due which a major hazard was averted, said a fire brigade officer.
According to Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) sources, after getting a call about the incident, a total of 5 vans were rushed to the spot and tried to gain control of the situation but gradually the blaze intensified and more fire engines, jumbo water tanks and quick response vehicles were called to the spot.
“In view of the polls, the supermarket was closed and some persons inside the premises ran out when the fire started. After the existing fire engines ran out of water, MFB officials tried to get water from a nearby swimming pool of a building situated next to the mall, as their vehicles had been sent back to reload the tanks with water,” said a police officer.
The fire brigade initially classified the fire at Level III before raising the alarm to Level IV. The fire official, after struggling to secure the area, got another emergency call after a blast occurred within the premises and all the residents of nearby building were immediately evacuated and told to leave at the earliest with their vehicles.
Rahul Shevale, sitting Member of Parliament from Shiv Sena, said that the incident occurred due to the negligence of the BMC authorities as they did not take any action after nearby residents had complained about fire safety measures at the mall. “The residents had earlier said that the building is not fireproof; neither has it adopted any appropriate measures to escape a firelike situation. We don’t know whether the mall has completed its fire safety audit.
Thankfully, the mall was shut, which saved many lives,” said Shevale. “The mall, which was about to start its sale season for customers, was reloading its stock; inside, there were oil barrels, deodorants and other inflammable materials which may have caught fire and resulted in the blasts.
However, the real reason of the incident will be clear after a proper investigation,” said a MFB officer. “The compound wall between Big Bazaar and the Pam Housing Society is being demolished, to create an extension. Prima facie, it seems to be illegal and the extension is being used as a godown.
The said extended godown was totally filled with various articles and fire brigade personnel faced a very difficult and dangerous situation with huge explosions occurring during the fire-fighting operations. Necessary action will be initiated by the ward and the fire brigade against the owner of Big Bazaar and the mill owner,” chief fire officer and director of Maharashtra Fire Services, Prabhat Rahangdale, said.