A 54-year-old man was killed, while 14 others were rescued after a major fire broke out in a four-storey residential building behind the iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Colaba.
The fire was reported in a third-floor flat of the more than 80-year-old Churchill Chambers building around noon on Sunday.
It was restricted to the electric installations and furniture of the apartment that belonged to the victim, Shyam Iyer.
Firefighters said Iyer died trying to douse the flames in his apartment. It took the fire brigade two hours to put out the fire.
“Iyer was found in a critically burnt condition in the corner of his flat, where the severity of fire was the most intense,” said chief fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale.
“He was taken to hospital but declared dead before arrival,” said Rahangdale, adding that it was easy to rescue people as the building’s windows did not have grills.
“However, it was an old construction, with narrow a staircase, where the heavy smoke made the firefighting operations difficult,” Rahangdale said.
Yusuf Poonawala, 43, also a resident of the building, is being treated at Bombay Hospital for suffocation.
No other major injuries were reported.
Suresh Keswani, a resident of the adjacent building, said, “Around noon, I heard people from the building crying for help. I rushed to the spot and helped some people down when the fire brigade arrived.”
Bhurmal Santosh Patil, a 29-year-old firefighter, was injured, but treated in an ambulance and discharged.
The fire brigade also took the help of residents. Rocky Lobo, who lived on the second floor of the building, said, “I went to the third floor with the firefighters as I knew the internal routes of the building. The fire officers told me to open all accessible windows and doors for the smoke to go out. We also rescued some residents to a safe place. The fire brigade has done a commendable job.”
“The Colaba police, who are investigating the fire, have registered a case of accidental death,” said Pranay Ashok, PRO and deputy commissioner of police, Mumbai Police.
Victim was dousing fire using buckets of water
Shyam Iyer, 54, died trying to douse the fire with buckets of water.
The fire broke out inside his apartment on the third floor of Churchill Chamber.
Fire brigade officials said Iyer had sent his wife down to safety with the other residents, but ended up getting trapped in the fire.
One of the residents of the building said, “Iyer was in his bedroom, which mostly had wooden furniture and wooden flooring. That is where the fire broke out.”
Iyer, a businessman, is survived by his
The fire brigade said the rescue operation got easier and there were few casualties as the windows of the building did not have grills on them.
“This saved us a lot of time as the firemen could get easy access into the building,” said chief fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale.
“In the case of heritage buildings, old constructions and excessive use of wood,
such as this one, it makes the rescue and fire-fighting operations more challenging,” Rahangdale added.
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