The Kamala Mills fire: a look at how the events unfolded

14 killed as fire engulfs Mumbai pub

The inferno: The fire raging at a building in the Kamala Mills Compound at Lower Parel in Mumbai on Friday.

The inferno: The fire raging at a building in the Kamala Mills Compound at Lower Parel in Mumbai on Friday.  

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Eight men and five women are undergoing treatment

Thursday evening began as a party but ended in tragedy for 14 people, including the woman who was celebrating her birthday, after a fire broke out at the ‘1Above Pub’ in the Trade House Building in the Kamala Mills Compound early on Friday.

While 54 people were admitted to various hospitals, 41 had been discharged by Friday evening. Thirteen persons —eight men and five women — were undergoing treatment, officials said.

The fire broke out after 12.30 a.m. at the ‘1 Above Pub’, located on the third floor of the four-storey Trade House Building in the redeveloped Kamala Mills Compound on Senapati Bapat Marg, a police official said.

 

The fire brigade rushed eight fire tenders to the spot and by 12.37 a.m., the raging blaze was declared a Level II emergency, and upgraded to Level III by 12.42 a.m.

Panic among patrons

Eye witnesses said the fire began in the roof over the open air area of the pub and spread rapidly to the Mojo’s Bistro next to it, sparking panic among the patrons. Strong winds fanned the blaze which soon engulfed the building. “I think I was among the first to spot the fire, as it began right above my head. Within a few seconds, it had covered the entire roof and there was panic all around me. I tried to run to the exit and got pushed to the ground. Had my friend not run back to help me, I might have been hurt in the stampede,” said well-known gynaecologist Sulbha Arora, who was among the patrons at 1 Above.

 

In the absence of clear signage, the patrons were unable to exit the pub even as the lifts stopped functioning. “Finally, some of us ran back into the hotel hoping to escape the rapidly spreading flames, and were guided out of the building through the staff access in the kitchen,” Dr. Arora said. “The staff were very helpful and encouraging and guided us to a stairwell that was quite broad. All the time, the fire was spreading behind us and we were running for our lives,” Dr. Arora said.

 

Most of the 14 victims — 11 women and three men — died due to asphyxiation, said Avinash Supe, dean of the KEM Hospital where the victims were brought. suffocation, while 54 others were injured. All the victims were found in the washrooms, where the guests had rushed in a effort to escape the fire.

 

Among the dead was Khushbu Bansali, who was celebrating her 29th birthday, according to the official list of victims.

The Kamala Mills Compound in central Mumbai is a redeveloped industrial compound, housing upmarket restaurants and commercial establishments, including offices of several television news channels such as Times Now, ET Now and TV9 Marathi.

Employees of the nearby Times Network building, who rushed to the rescue, said over 100 occupants of the Trade House building escaped through a narrow passageway on the Times Network end.

“This passageway is very narrow and only one person can walk through it at a time,” Mangesh Sable, who works in the Times Network building, said.

Officials said the exit towards the Senapati Bapat Marg-end was blocked as the roof collapsed trapping people inside.

The fire brigade battled the flames for close to four hours, using water from five jumbo tankers to bring the fire under control, and two more hours to extinguish it. The operation officially ended at 6:23 a.m.

The Fire Brigade, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the N M Joshi Marg police subsequently began their respective inquries into the matter.

Owners booked

Police have booked Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Mankar of C Grade Hospitality which manages the pub, along with others, under various charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder. No arrests have been made so far. DCP Virendra Mishra said a “look-out notice” will be issued for the accused.

Mr. Mishra said there was gross negligence on part of the establishment and even basic safety measures were not followed.

The BMC, meanwhile, transferred the Assistant Municipal Commissioner of the region, and five civic officials were suspended.

Hours before his transfer was announced, AMC Prashant Sapkale told The Hindu, “The two establishments only had Eating House permissions and the open air extensions were illegal. We have been taking action against a lot of such restaurants in our ward. We could not revoke their Eating House permits without following due procedure. Notices were issued to four open air establishments in Kamala Mills, including One Above and Mojo's Bistro.”

K.V. Hiwrale, Deputy Chief Fire Officer informed that an enquiry would begin from Saturday. “1 Above had the fire permission. However it is to be seen if they complied with all the conditions and took all the safety precautions. I cannot comment just yet since everything has been burnt,” he said.

Additional Municipal Commissioner (City), A.L Jarhad said the enquiry would reveal how the premises continued to operate despite notices being sent.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 12:05:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/14-killed-as-fire-engulfs-mumbai-pub/article22328388.ece

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