Mumbai: A massive fire broke out at the GST Bhavan in Byculla on Monday but no casualties were reported, civic officials said. Firefighters battled for almost three hours to douse the blaze, which started on the ninth floor of the 10-storey government-owned building, officials said.
Around 3,500 people, including visitors and staff, were in the building, when the fire broke out, around 12.30 pm, deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said. He assured a probe into the blaze, clarifying that no records were lost, as documents had been digitised.
Pawar said the fire spread rapidly due to the presence of papers and wooden material in the building, from where thick smoke billowed out. Cooling operations were underway, he said.
“The fire brigade received the call at 12.32pm after which 16 fire engines, nine jumbo water tankers, two turntable ladders, 45 units of breathing apparatus and two quick-rescue vehicles were rushed to the spot.
It took almost three hours to douse the flames, which erupted on the eighth and ninth floors of the building. It is too early to discuss the cause of the fire, which can be ascertained only after investigation," said a civic official from Andheri.
There was some repair work going on in the building. The fire was confined to paper, wooden furniture, and electric wiring, gutting the eighth and ninth floors.
Even before the fire brigade could arrive, almost all employees and visitors had been evacuated.
"Only one person was rescued by us from the fifth floor," said fire officers,’’ said Mumbai's Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale. The firemen had to use breathing apparatus to put out the flames.
Though some staffers blamed a short circuit for the fire, officials said the exact cause was under investigation.
The building was earlier known as Sales Tax Bhavan, but since the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in 2017, it was renamed GST Bhavan.
BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi visited the spot and told reporters, “The documents on the ninth floor were destroyed in the incident. A thorough investigation will be done.”
Last week, a massive fire had partially gutted a three-storey commercial building in suburban Andheri.