Mumbai: One person died after a ‘Level-4’ fire broke out on the 19th floor of a luxury residential building, One Avighna Park, in South Mumbai’s Lower Parel area on Friday. The incident that occurred at the city’s luxury Avighna Park society, has blazingly brought to the fore the issue of fire safety compliance by high-rises in the financial capital.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
At least 14 fire tenders and nine jumbo tankers were rushed to the spot. The fire was doused at around 2.04pm, following which cooling operations were started. However, during the operations, the fire officers reported that the sprinklers had low water pressure at the beginning, which was automatically resolved later.
Elaborating on the situation, Kailash Agrawal, developer of the Avighna Park tower said that the buildings had more than enough fire safety equipment. “The incident is unfortunate and was caused due to a short circuit. However, there are no issues with the fire safety system in the building. We had recently had a mock drill and fire safety audit on October 1,” Agrawal informed.
He added, “There are 400 flats in the building and the building is well-equipped with fire safety systems, imported from Norway.”
Environment minister and guardian minister of Mumbai suburbs, Aaditya Thackeray too rushed to the spot and took stock of the situation. He said that the death of the security guard was unfortunate and shocking, however, it could have been worse had the fire safety equipment not been in place. Thackeray said, “This incident in a high-rise building only reiterates how important fire safety drills, fire safety norms like sprinklers, refuge areas are in every building. The presence of this fire safety equipment helped in saving many other lives today.”
He added, “Some flats around 100, were vacant and repair work was on. We should wait for the report from the fire brigade. I was told that the pressure of the sprinkler system was weak initially, but later, it caught pressure. The fire brigade will investigate that too. However, this again highlights the importance for regular fire drills, fire safety audits and the need for a functional fire safety system.”
“A total of 40 vehicles including 14 fire engines, nine jumbo tankers, one control room vehicle, skylift were on the spot. The fire was brought under control by around 3.30pm. and it was completely doused by around 4.58pm,” said Hemant Parab, Chief Fire Officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade.
Probe will be conducted: BMC chief
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar held a meeting with top BMC officials on illegal constructions and fire compliance by high rises and discuss the incident of Avighna park tower. Following this, the civic body announce that an administrative probe will be initiated to investigate the fire incident.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said the civic officials have taken note of complaints of residents. “An administrative probe will be conducted and action will be taken based on that,” he said.
Pednekar criticised the building management and developer. She said, “The fire broke out due to short-circuit in a flat and engulfed the entire floor. The management needs to be punished for a non-operational fire-fighting system in a new building. How did the fire spread so much, when there was an in-built fire safety system and fire-fighting equipment. Either the fire safety system was not functional or the on-duty staff could not operate them in time, causing the fire to spread. According to the information we got, the fire safety system in the building responded poorly initially. It did start working later, but by then, the fire had spread beyond control. Action will be taken against those found guilty.”
Pednekar further said that the residents of the building have been complaining to the developer that there is a lot of work pending due to non-transfer to the society and this had led to the fire. The mayor directed the administration to take necessary action after conducting a detailed inquiry into the complaint by the residents.
Over 1,568 fire mishaps in Mumbai high-rises since 2008
Mumbai has witnessed more than 48,434 small and major fire incidents, of which 1,568 were reported in Mumbai’s high-rises since 2008, according to the data compiled by activist Shakeel Ahmed, using the Right to Information Act, from the Mumbai Fire Brigade.
8,737 fire incidents were reported from residential buildings, 3,833 incidents from commercial buildings and 3,151 incidents from slum colonies between 2008 and 2018, according to the data.
Short-circuit was the cause of the fire in 32,516 of these incidents, gas cylinder leaks in 1,116, while there were other reasons for the remaining 11,889 incidents. These incidents claimed 609 lives, including 212 men and women each and 29 children and caused property damage worth Rs 89.04 crore, the RTI replies revealed.
In 2020 alone, 3,841 fire incidents were reported, killing 100 people and injuring 298, the data said.