Sparks from welding machine caused ESIC fire: police

Investigation reveals sparks fell on stack of rubber mats, setting off fire, smoke and causing panic among patients; police in search of two absconding welders

Updated - December 03, 2021 10:02 am IST

Published - December 21, 2018 01:16 am IST - Mumbai

The day after:  Shattered windows and empty wards at ESIC Hospital on Tuesday where eight people died in a fire on Monday.

The day after: Shattered windows and empty wards at ESIC Hospital on Tuesday where eight people died in a fire on Monday.

The fire at the ESIC Hospital in Marol, which has claimed 10 lives as of Thursday, was set off by sparks that flew from a welding machine and landed on a stack of rubber mats, the police investigation has revealed. The police are trying to trace and apprehend two welders, who have been missing since the day of the fire.

The fire broke out in the new, under-construction building of the hospital on Monday and spread to the old building. The flames and dense smoke sparked off panic among the patients, and many of them sustained injuries while trying to escape from the premises. The MIDC police on Wednesday arrested the site supervisor and his assistant employed by Supreme Constructions, which was awarded the contract for the construction.

‘No safety equipment’

According to the police officers, the firm’s failure in adopting safety measures was the main reason for the tragedy and the high death toll. Navinchandra Reddy, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone X), said, “Two welders, who are now wanted in the case, were carrying out welding work to install air conditioning ducts on the first floor of the new building. Sparks from the welding machine kept falling on a large stack of rubber mats stored on the ground floor, triggering the fire.”

Mr. Reddy said that after the stack of around 30 to 40 mats went up in flames, dense smoke spread to the old building, causing panic among patients. The police said the bulk of the culpability lay on Supreme Constructions. Mr. Reddy said, “The fire broke out in the new building which was under construction and not operational. The onus was on the contractor to ensure safety of the building in case of fire and other eventualities. There is no fire safety equipment at the site. We will be conducting inquires with the hospital authorities.”

The police have called in officials and staff members of the hospital for inquiries to find out if there was any negligence on their part that caused the fire.

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