Fire at Bombay House kills three

Short circuit in an air conditioner said to be the cause

February 09, 2011 10:05 am | Updated October 08, 2016 11:29 pm IST - Mumbai

Three persons were killed and four injured after a major fire broke out in the basement of the Bombay House here on Wednesday. The fire, which broke out at 9.20 a.m, was extinguished by 11.42 a.m., fire department officials said.

Bombay House, a historic building constructed more than 85 years ago, is the head office of the Tata Group, located in South Mumbai.

Though the exact cause of the fire could not be known, senior officials said that preliminary investigations pointed towards short circuit in an air conditioner.

“Eight fire engines and seven water tankers were put to service to extinguish the fire,” Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare told The Hindu. He said that the building was evacuated and the injured were rushed to St. George's Hospital.

Three of the seven injured died due to suffocation.

An official statement issued from the Bombay House stated: “A fire broke out this morning, before office hours, in Bombay House, headquarters of the Tata Group. The fire has been brought under control and the building evacuated. Out of the people evacuated, there were three casualties — Farad Wadia, Eashwar Patel and Shashank Pawar. A Tata Sons spokesperson said, the Group offers deepest condolences to the bereaved families and relief is being organised. The authorities are investigating the cause of the incident. The Tata group is fully cooperating in the investigations.”

Mr. Tatkare said the basement was used for multiple purposes. “They had a small auditorium there, an electric substation, office area, changing rooms, canteen, record room. So there were lot of activities going on there. The fire broke out in the office cabin and the air conditioner machine split area and it spread fast,” he said.

He said that according to the rules, the basement area can be used only for storage. “But the officials told us that because it was an old building they had the old permissions in place. We have asked them to show those documents.”

He clarified that the office canteen in the basement had no gas cylinders as it only used electric appliances. “The fire did not break out in the canteen area,” he said.

Mr. Tatkare said that more damage was caused despite the fire-fighting equipment being in place as it was it was on manual instead of active mode.

He also said that those stuck in the basement chose a wrong route to escape, thus ending up walking into an area filled with thick smoke. He added that some norms were overlooked. The fire broke out before the working hours. All employees were asked to go back home.

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