Seven people were killed and over 25 others rescued in a major fire that broke out in a 26-storey Mont Blanc building, an elite residential high-rise in South Mumbai on Friday evening. The fire that started on the 12th floor was restricted to that floor and brought under control after more than three hours.

“The building had all the fire-safety mechanisms which greatly helped in preventing the fire from escalating to higher floors,” said deputy chief fire officer P.S. Rahangdale. Some of the injured are in hospital. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Some residents were sitting in the garden when they saw small sparks. “We alerted the watchman immediately and asked people to rush out. But the fire began to spread quickly and the lights went off. The lift also stopped working,” said a resident.

Thirty-five fire fighting units and six ambulances reached the spot but residents alleged they came an hour after the fire broke out. The fire station is a few kilometres away, but peak traffic slowed their journey. About four firemen and three residents were injured and were rushed to the Breach Candy hospital. Residents who complained of suffocation were also rushed to nearby hospitals.

The fire brigade said the entire 12th floor of the building where the fire broke out, is owned by diamond merchant Dinesh Gandhi. He was also the producer of the Bollywood film Tezaab. Part of the floor was being refurbished and carpentry work was in progress. Once the fire started, a gas cylinder burst, causing it to spread more rapidly. Mr. Gandhi and his family were rescued and taken to a higher floor. “Four firemen and two fire officials were trying to enter when the cylinder burst,” Mr. Kunte said.

52 flats in building

Rescue operations were hampered by the narrow lane leading to the building. The high-rise — which has 52 flats and a swimming pool — is located right next to another skyscraper, the iconic Grand Paradi. Also, Mont Blanc has only one staircase and does not have a fire-escape.

“We were constantly in touch with the residents who were trapped inside. We asked them to switch off their gas connections, keep a lot of water next to them and a bundle of towels,” said a fireman.