Scindia House blaze caused by short circuit: fire brigade

Report prepared after perusing several witness statements, probe rules out sabotage

Mumbai: The blaze in one of the third-floor offices at Scindia House on June 1 was not an act of sabotage, but caused by a short circuit, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has said. The conclusion, drawn after going through several witness statements and a thorough investigation, is part of a report submitted to the chief fire officer on Wednesday.

Six people and a fireman were injured in the fire at the six-storey building in Ballard Pier, which has various offices of the Income Tax department. These include the office of the deputy director (investigation), additional director (headquarters), debt recovery tribunal, and the cyberforensic lab. Since the office housed documents related to the Nirav Modi and the Punjab National Bank cases, there was speculation about the cause of the blaze.

The fire brigade report has blamed defective electric circuit. “The fire broke out in a switch board on the third floor. Staff tried to douse it but it went out of control. We found clear and sufficient evidence to prove that it erupted due to a short circuit,” V.N. Panigrahi, deputy chief fire officer, said. Mr. Panigrahi, as the acting CFO, accepted the report.

“The switch board was near the office of the deputy director (investigation), Income Tax. Due to stationery and other material, the fire spread to the upper floors. Due to lack of ventilation, it reignited at one point. Civic officials will look for violations in the building’s structure. The police are also investigating,” the investigating officer, who did not wish to be named, said.

Since the building is old, it does not have sprinklers or other modern firefighting equipment. Eight fire engines were sent to the spot for the level-IV blaze with Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale turning up. Additional municipal commissioner I.A. Kundan also visited the spot. It was hours before the fire could be doused.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:45:44 AM |

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