Mumbai, October 22
A 30-year-old security guard fell to his death from a balcony on the 19th floor of a 61-storey residential building in central Mumbai after a major fire broke out there on Friday, officials said.
A video of the tragic incident, showing the man precariously holding onto the railing of the balcony just before falling, went viral.
The Fire Brigade rescued sixteen other stranded persons.
The blaze erupted on the 19th floor of the ‘One Avighna Park’ building in Currey Road area shortly before noon. The cause was suspected to be a short circuit inside a flat but this was yet to be confirmed, officials said.
Inquiry would be conducted into the incident, said Mumbai municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal who along with Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited the spot.
The flames spread from the 19th floor to the 20th before being doused after five hours. As many as 16 fire engines, nine water tankers and two ladders were pressed into service, a fire brigade official said.
“After the fire broke out, Arun Tiwari, a security guard of the building, rushed to the 19th floor. But he soon realized that he was trapped and to save himself he went to the balcony of the flat where the fire had erupted,” another official said.
“He held on to the balcony’s railing, dangling precariously for several minutes before losing grip and falling to his death,” the official said.
He was rushed to the civic-run KEM Hospital where he was declared dead.
The fire brigade said it was a “level-4” fire, which means a major blaze.
Mayor Pednekar said Tiwari could have been saved had the private security guards appointed at the building been well-trained.
“They (Tiwari’s colleagues) had 15 minutes to take necessary steps. Had they caught him in a bedsheet below or put mattresses on the floor, he might have survived,” she said.
He lost grip on the railing before the fire brigade could put up the ladder, she added.
As many as 16 persons who were stuck on the upper floors were safely rescued through the staircase while two people, earlier said to be missing, were safe in their flat, officials said.
Hemant Parab, chief fire official of the Mumbai Fire Brigade, told PTI that the fire was confined to only 19th and 20th floors.
Initially, the internal fire-fighting system of the building did not have sufficient water pressure, but later it started working, he said. The fire could have been contained quicker had the system functioned well from the start, he added.
Maharashtra Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray also visited the spot.
“Fire has been doused and cooling ops are underway. I met and thanked the brave jawans of the Mumbai Fire Brigade for their swift response,” he tweeted.
After five hours, around 5 pm, the fire brigade declared that the fire was completely doused.
Pednekar called an immediate meeting of deputy municipal commissioners in the evening on the issues of fire safety and illegal constructions.
Commissioner Chahal said strict action would be taken if the complaints made by the building’s residents were found to be true.
“An administrative inquiry into the fire incident will be conducted. Also, if the complaints are found be factual, strict action will be taken against the concerned,” Chahal said.
Pednekar said some furniture work was going on in the flat where the fire started. The building has 300 flats and around 200 of them are occupied, she said.
Residents of the building alleged while speaking to the media that the developer had not yet transferred the premises formally to them though society was formed long ago, and therefore they can not carry out any work.
Some residents also alleged that the builder was carrying out illegal construction on the premises.
Pednekar said she had asked the administration to probe these allegations. PTI
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