Fire breaks out at Mumbai 61-storey high-rise building in India, killing one
A Level Four (serious emergency call) fire in the 61-storey One Avighna Park at Curry Road in central Mumbai in India claimed the life of the building’s security guard on Friday morning, 22 October 2021. 30-year old Arun Tiwari died after falling to his death from the balcony of a flat on the 19th floor. The fire broke out at around 11h51am on the 19th floor of the 61-storey One Avighna Park tower. It was tagged as a 'level-4' (major) fire at 12h55pm. The fire brigade responded with 14 fire engines and doused the blaze at around 13h25. The Mumbai fire brigade rescued residents trapped in smoke-filled corridors, gave each of them breathing apparatus and brought them to safety using the building’s staircase. Fire brigade officials said that 26 people were safely rescued with no injuries.
A video of Tiwari falling to his death was shared multiple times on social media on Friday. In the video, shot by an unknown person and shared on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, Tiwari is seen clinging onto the parapet outside the 19th floor window as smoke billowed from an adjoining balcony. He lost his grip over the concrete and, according to eye-witnesses from the Mumbai fire brigade, Tiwari fell on the fire truck parked below and then fell on the ground. He was rushed to the nearby KEM hospital in an ambulance, where he was declared brought dead.
“At 12h55 pm, we clinically evaluated the casualty, conducted an electrocardiogram and declared the person dead. His body was handed to the police,” said Pravin Bangar, chief medical officer of KEM hospital.
Tiwari’s death occurred a few minutes after fire engines and equipment, including a turntable ladder, reached the spot. The turntable ladder entered the premises from the main gate, which was parallel to where Tiwari fell from. A fire truck was stationed on the side Tiwari was trying to escape the fire from. By the time the fire brigade directed the turntable ladder for this rescue, Tiwari fell off the building onto the fire truck, a fire officer said.
Another senior officer from the fire brigade said, “It is unclear why Tiwari went up to the 19th floor during or immediately after the fire or whether he was already there before the fire broke out. It is also unclear if he went to rescue any trapped residents or went to check if the floor was clear and then got stuck there due to smoke.”
The fire was fanned further by the high wind speed on the 19th floor, and thick smoke had engulfed the corridor. “This may have compromised his visibility and made breathing difficult. Imagine the state of the person trapped in such a space,” the fire official said.
One Avighna Park has two wings, A and B; the fire was reported in the latter. According to a member of its maintenance and management team, the building has approximately 60 percent occupancy. Each floor has two to four flats.
“The fire alarm went off after the fire and residents vacated the building,” he said. “Some were trapped due to smoke and were rescued by the fire brigade.” The fire fighting system of the building was functional but was not operational as soon as the fire occurred. The fire brigade manually started the fire fighting system, which helped douse the fire.
The senior fire brigade officer said, “Fortunately, the fire was on the 19th floor. The fire brigade’s 90-metre ladder was used to contain the fire with a high-pressure hose pipe. This allowed us early entry and to fight the fire from within. Due to wind velocity at that height, it is difficult to match the speed of the spread of fire with our fire fighting operations. Had the fire been on any floor higher than the 25th, it would have been challenging.”
saw the Mumbai Fire Brigade deploying drones for the first time in the city while conducting search operations after the fire outbreak.
With a proliferation of high-rises in Mumbai, Mumbai Fire Brigade is going for advance technology and equipment, including the possibility of deploying drones for actual fire fighting.
Officials said that taking note of high-rises in the city, the fire brigade has already procured three snorkels (ladder and platform apparatus) of 70 metres, 80 metres and 90 metres length that can go up to 30 floors. The fire brigade has also inducted robots to carry out fire fighting in areas where intense heat and smoke makes it difficult for fighters to get inside.
Residents of the building said that the fire fighting system didn't work when the fire broke out on the 19th floor of the building. The fire broke out in a flat of one of the residents, Sameet Rathod. He said that the fire fighting system failed to kick in. His children and wife were at home at the time of the incident. He had recently moved to the building.
Minister Aditya Thackeray and BMC Commissioner I S Chahal, who visited the building, assured that an inquiry would be carried out based on the statements of the residents. "I have been told that the sprinkler system in the building was weak. All new buildings should have fire fighting systems in place. The person who died was a watchman at the building. He had gone to the 19th floor to save the residents," said Thackeray.
Developer of the project Nishant Agarwal, MD of Avighna Group, said that they had been very particular about fire safety on the premises and a mock drill was done on 1 October. "We affixed imported fire fighting equipment and, while due to panic, there might have been a delay in operating the system, it fully functioned once it was properly started," he said.
When asked about residents' allegations of the society not being handed over, he said that they had written to the deputy registrar but were unable to hold an AGM, owing to the restriction on large gatherings due to the pandemic.
Chief Fire Officer Hemant Dattatray Parab said, “The most recent fire safety compliance documents (form B) of the building, which is supposed to be submitted between January and July each year, cannot be found in the fire brigade’s records at present.”
Kalachowkie Police have registered a case of negligence against those concerned under relevant sections of IPC and Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act.
Sources: Hindustan Times, India Today