Four years after a devastating fire, building gets a makeover

Four years after a fire broke out at Carlton Towers on HAL Airport Road, leaving nine people dead, the multistoreyed building looks desolate from the outside. However, inside, a group of people are busy at work. These are members of the Carlton Towers Owners’ Association (CTOA), who are now hoping to move back into the building in a few months.

Re-elected to the association, they vouch for the claim that the commercial complex now has all the necessary clearances.

The changes are notable: smoke detectors can be found in each unit, there are fire extinguishers in strategic locations, circuit breakers (which trip if more power than allocated is consumed) are under lock and key and there are fire hydrants.

Importantly, a one-way entry only (from inside to outside) emergency staircase has been installed, while the spaces between flights of stairs connecting each floor have been left open, replacing the glass panels.

It may be recalled that the source of the fire was traced to the service duct on the second floor, and it was confined to that floor. But smoke had spread to the upper floors through the duct, causing much of the damage. At least three of the victims leapt to their death by breaking open windows on the sixth and seventh floors to escape from the thick blanket of smoke that engulfed them.

Giriraj Sadashiva, president of CTOA, told The Hindu that the electrical works had been redone completely. “There were a few encroachments in the common area (on the ground floor) that have been cleared. Instead of the 60 to 70 generators, we have installed three full capacity generators with 500 kV capacity each. We have renovated the elevators as well. No one will be allowed to make any structural changes that might affect the sanctioned plan and no changes will be allowed to the fire fighting system. We have taken an undertaking from them not to remove the smoke detectors while constructing the false ceiling,” he elaborated.

Ready to return

Significantly, CTOA members claimed that at least 50 per cent of the owners were ready to move back in. There are 77 owners in all who own 160 units totally, some of them owning multiple units. Anjali Hamilton, an owner, has been managing at a place close to Carlton Towers.

Col. G. Chandrasekar (retd), general manager (projects and facilities), CTOA, even said there are tenants waiting to return to the building.

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