The Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police has formed four teams to investigate the cause of the devastating Thursday’s fire in Maharashtra State Secretariat Mantralaya, destroying three floors, and killing five people.

Around 40 officials of the Crime Branch will be assisted by forensic experts, Fire Department officials and electrical engineers.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Himanshu Roy, told reporters the priority of the probe would be to find out if the fire was caused by an accident or if sabotage caused it.

The Crime Branch teams began investigation on Friday morning, recording statements of the 15 injured in the fire.

“The statements of all relevant persons will be recorded,” Mr Roy said. “There are four aspects of investigation — forensic analysis, statements of the witnesses, recordings of the CCTV cameras, and circumstantial evidence.” They would go through the CCTV footage of all the relevant areas.

The teams inspected the fourth and fifth floors, which were destroyed in the fire. “The cooling down procedure was going on on the sixth and seventh floors, making it difficult to inspect them,” Mr. Roy said.

The fire brigade used eight fire hoses to cool down the sixth and the seventh floors. Police sources said the fire broke out on the fourth floor, and spread rapidly due to heavy furniture, papers and files.

Meanwhile, teams of the Coast Guard surveyed the damaged floors from Thursday night, till early hours of on Friday.

The Coast Guard fire fighting team, using special fire-fighting equipment such as smoke masks and breathing apparatus, helped the administration in the operation. The 35-member team was stationed at Mantralaya for 17 hours, before they were given the permission to move out.


Blaze death toll 5June 22, 2012

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