Photo by BL SONI
Photo by BL SONI

Mumbai: A massive fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon in Beaumonde, a 34-storey high rise in south Mumbai’s Prabhadevi area. The level III fire call was made when the fire broke out in an unused Rs 70 crore penthouse apartment owned by a Non-Resident Indian Harish Abhiyani.

Among other celebs, Deepika Padukone has her residence as well as office in the twin tower; but she was not in when the fire started. Her home and office are safe. The fire, which broke out at 2pm in Beaumonde’s B wing, was brought under control late evening. All the 90 residents were rescued and no casualties were reported. However, two firemen, who sustained injuries, were rushed to King Edward Memorial hospital and discharged after primary treatment.

Twelve fire engines, eight jumbo water tanks, two breathing apparatus and two ambulances were deployed in the dousing operation. It was difficult for the firemen to immediately douse the fire due to weather and obstacles within the complex. So, the firemen were unable to use the water tanker hose pipes externally due to the gusty wind.

The 90-feet-ladder too could not reach to the top floor, as it was blocked by the podium and the elevation was in the front. The firemen were forced to access the affected apartments from inside the building and rescue the residents. The fire gutted the top three floors — 31, 32 and 33. Eye witnesses said the two duplexes, which were under construction, caught fire due to a short circuit. But this was not confirmed by the firemen. “Investigations are on. The cause of the fire is not yet known,” said P S Rahangdale, Chief Fire Officer. The power supply to the building has been discontinued.

Rahangdale added, “Around 60 to 75 firemen worked to douse the fire. The ladder couldn’t reach the 30th floor due to the elevation and the podium. We had 15 fire engines and 6 to 7 water tankers in place. There is ankle length water till the 27th floor due to the cooling operations.”

Residents were naturally traumatised by the incident and refused to entertain any media person. In fact, a small fracas erupted between media persons and the residents, after which the news persons were asked to leave the building premises. An elderly survivor in his late 60s was heard telling a relative, “I was about to take a nap when I heard the alarm going off. I was initially confused about what was happening.”

Kailash Mandal, (30), who works as a domestic help on the 25th floor, was about to have his lunch when the commotion took place. “Just as I was about to have lunch, a man came banging on our door screaming there was a fire. I informed the women present in the house, who took their children and ran for their lives. Since the lift wasn’t working we had to take the stairs,” said Mandal.

He added, “It was scary how people were scurrying around. But we managed to reach the ground floor. It is disheartening that the residents will not be able to live in the building for the next two to three days. All are looking for an alternate place to stay.” The neighbouring wing residents were seen reaching out to the survivors and offering a family with two young children a place to stay for the night.

In the afternoon, Shiv Sena leaders converged at the spot and spoke to the media alleging that the building security had failed to douse the fire. Sada Sarvankar blamed the building society for not installing internal fire security measures. Quite a few celebs and who’s who of the media live here. A media baron lives in the ‘B’ wing of this society. Even actor Deepika Padukone lives here, but was away on a film shoot. The 32-year-old star took to twitter to inform the followers about her well- being and also extended gratitude to the firefighters managing the mishap. “I am safe. Thank you everyone. Let us pray for our firefighters who are at the site risking their lives…” Padukone wrote. Not just the high rise, even the prices of the apartment are touching dizzying heights. Sample this: A 2-BHK costs Rs 8-10 crore; a 3-BHK costs Rs 16-21 crore; a 4-BHK Rs 21-30 crore; a 5-BHK Rs 45-50 crore and a 6-BHK nearly Rs 70 crore.

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