Studio blaze: youth’s body found after father comes looking

Fire-ravaged: Cinevista Studio in Kanjurmarg suffered heavy damage in the fire that broke out late on Saturday.

Fire-ravaged: Cinevista Studio in Kanjurmarg suffered heavy damage in the fire that broke out late on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Prashant Waydande

Victim worked as a boom operator; not alerted about missing person while fighting blaze: fire brigade

Mumbai: The fire brigade’s claim that everyone inside Cinevista Studio in Kanjurmarg had been safely evacuated when the fire broke out on Saturday turned out to be tragically wrong, with the discovery of a charred body amidst the ruins on Sunday. Polices said the victim, identified as Gopi Verma, 20, was employed as a boom operator on the sets of teleserial Bepanaah. Over 100 TV crew members were evacuated to safety after the fire broke out.

In fact, the fire brigade began a fresh search for Verma on Sunday only after his father approached them in the morning, as his son hadn’t returned home. Alim Ansari, a family friend of the Vermas, said, “We tried calling him on Saturday night, but couldn’t. We informed the production crew that he hadn’t been accounted for. This morning, his father and I went to the spot to inform them that Gopi was missing.”

The fire brigade claims they weren’t informed about a missing person during fire-fighting operations on Saturday evening. “Our team was carrying out cooling-down operations through the night. When we came to know there was a person missing, we got civic workers to help.” a fire officer said. He added that due to the debris at the site, the search operation took around three hours. Verma’s body was found around 11.30 a.m. and sent to Rajawadi Hospital, where his uncle identified him.

No fire exits: family

Police surgeon Dr. S.M. Patil said Verma’s body was completely charred. “He died of shock due to 95% to 100% burns. His blood and skin samples have been sent to the forensic science laboratory in Kalina for tests. The chemical analysis will help to ascertain if he had suffered inhalation burns as well, while the skin sample will help in identifying the material that had caught fire.”

Mr. Ansari said the family hasn’t filed a written complaint. “We didn’t know how to. The production house knew he was missing. Had there been fire exits, this tragedy may not have happened.” Verma lived with his father and elder brother Kishen in Santosh Nagar, Goregaon (East). The family has its roots in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Khushinagar district, where Verma’s mother and younger brother live. His father is also employed in the film industry as an assistant to an art director.

Senior PI Vilas Jadhav, Parksite police station, said the cause of the fire is still not known. “The fire brigade is investigating the incident. We’ll take action based on their report.”

The studio is owned by Prem Krishen, son of veteran actor Prem Nath. When the fire broke out, shooting was underway for Bepanaah, which began airing on Colors TV this month.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 3:38:59 PM |

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