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Behrampada slum fire brings back 2011 memories

Destruction and despair (Left) Plumes of smoke billowing out of Behrampada slum outside Bandra railway station on Thursday; residents gather at a safe place.  

A major fire triggered by multiple cylinder blasts broke out at Behrampada slums outside Bandra railway station during a demolition drive by the civic body on Thursday afternoon.

While no casualties were reported, locals estimated that 200-300 houses were destroyed in the fire that raged on for five hours and brought back the memories of the 2011 blaze which had gutted the locality.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire started in the houses under the ticket counter of Bandra (East), at around 3 p.m.

“We heard an explosion under the counter. The fire then spread towards the station. Some of the houses reached up to the level of the railway foot overbridge were also affected,” Altaf Sheikh, a college student who has grown up in Beherampada, said.

The houses affected lay between the ticket office, railway tracks, and a masjid in the northern side of the locality.

The blaze forced the Western Railway to stop the Harbour Line services between Wadala and Andheri, in both directions, between 4.25 p.m. and 4.50 p.m.

: Slum residents gather at a safe place away from the fire.

: Slum residents gather at a safe place away from the fire.  

 

An officer with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said officials of H-East ward were demolishing some illegal structures in the slum when the fire broke out. “Prima facie, a cylinder blast is believed to have triggered the blaze. At least two more cylinders are suspected to have exploded after the initial blast.”

Chief Fire Officer P.S. Rahangdale, Mumbai Fire Brigade, said they received a call at 3.18 p.m., and the first fire tender was at the spot at 3.30 p.m. “By 4.21 p.m., the fire had spread and was designated as a level IV call, the second most serious category in disaster management. A total of 16 fire tenders and 12 water tankers brought the fire under control at 8 p.m.”

“The fire was confined to electric wiring, electric installation, electric fans, garments, scrapped material, plastic, kerosene, household articles, large stock of wooden furniture, LPG cylinders and rags in an area of about 20,000 square metre with ground, ground plus two and ground plus three structures,” Mr. Rahangdale said.

Mr. Rahangdale said, “At the initial stage, there was a crowd of locals and people gathered to take selfie. That area was cordoned off with the help of the police. Fireman Arvind Parbhati Ghadge of Bandra fire station and fireman Ajay Ram Dhore of Marol fire station were injured, and were taken to Bhabha Hospital. It was a very critical operation because of the congestion, crowd management, and the traffic.”

The locals, however, put the blame on officials of H West Ward. They claimed that eviction notices were served on Wednesday night and they were given 48 hours to gather their belongings. “Around 1 p.m., the bulldozers arrived and started tearing into the houses,” Mohammad Shagaf, one of the affected residents, said.

Local Shiv Sena corporator Haji Halim Khan, who visited the site, demanded answers from the Collector. “We will stage a dharna if all families are not rehabilitated.” As night fell, families began entering some of charred houses that were deemed safe in order to salvage what was left of their belongings even as community kitchens sprung up to prepare dinner for the thousands displaced, for the second time in six years.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 10:53:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/behrampada-slum-fire-brings-back-2011-memories/article19927814.ece

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