A day after the fire at the Mont Blanc high-rise in south Mumbai killed seven people, fire officials said at least four deaths could have been avoided.
Among the dead were Dinesh Gandhi (65), his maid Chhotu and cook Behranbhai, who lived in a flat on the 12th floor. The fire had started in the neighbouring flat and spread to the Gandhi’s home. “That was fate. But the others died mainly because they panicked and got out of their homes,” said a fire officer.
A resident, who did not want to be named, said Mr. Gandhi’s wife Devyani was downstairs when the fire started. “She went up with the liftman, probably to get to her husband,” the resident said. They ended up rushing into the blaze. Their bodies were found charred outside the lift.
P.S. Rahangdale, deputy chief fire officer, said the other two bodies were found on the 19th and 26th floors. “We had told people not to get out of their homes. We had asked them to keep the windows shut and keep a lot of water next to them, including wet towels. But it seems like the two residents panicked and stepped out of their homes in an attempt to get down. But they suffocated on inhaling the toxic fumes,” he said.
Meanwhile, firemen managed to rescue five people from the flat where the fire emanated. “We rushed inside the flat and found five workers standing in a corner. We put out the flames and brought them out quickly. The fire started again in that flat,” he added.
Fire officials said that the building was better equipped to tackle fires than other highrises that hardly complied with norms. “The building had weight risers and first aid. There was a swimming pool so we even managed to draw water from there,” said divisional fire officer A.V. Kale.
Meanwhile, police commissioner Satyapal Singh ordered an inquiry into the incident after he visited the spot on Saturday.