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Kamala Mills fire updates: Police launches manhunt for owners of pubs where blaze broke out; both establishments deny violations

At least 14 people were killed and as many injured after a major fire in a building in Kamala Mills Compound in Lower Parel

FP Staff December 29, 2017 17:09:27 IST
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Kamala Mills fire updates: Police launches manhunt for owners of pubs where blaze broke out; both establishments deny violations

Highlights

07:45 (ist)

Fire started at a restaurant called 1 Above

The Hindu also reported that the fire was initially declared to be a level II blaze, before it was upgraded to level III at around 12.42 pm.

The fire control room also said that the fire was reported to have broken out at a restaurant called 1 Above.

07:45 (ist)

Majority of those killed are women

The Indian Express also reported that the victims were attending a birthday party at the rooftop of a restaurant, according to the police.

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Dec 29, 2017 - 17:04 (IST)

Kamala Mills fire latest in Mumbai's '29' series of tragedies

India's financial capital was rocked by three tragedies this year - a deluge, a stampede and a major blaze — all on the 29th. The series of '29' began on August 29 when torrential rain brought Mumbai to its knees. At least 10 people were killed in Mumbai and its neighbouring areas.

 
Exactly a month later, on September 29, 23 people lost their lives in a stampede on a bridge linking the Elphinston Road and Parel stations. And today, in the dying days of the year, tragedy struck again on the 29th with a fire breaking out in a pub in a building in the Kamala Mills compound. The midnight blaze killed 14 people, including 11 women, and injured 21.

Dec 29, 2017 - 16:45 (IST)

We followed rules, Mojo Bistro did not have safety exit: 1Above statement 

The two pubs have denied any wrongdoings in the matter. And 1Above in a statement claimed that the other restaurant did not have a safety exit, which is why the patrons dining there had to use 1Above's exit. They also said that the fire rose from "adjoining quarters" and not their restaurant. 

"The facts of the incident, as seen by our staff, indicate a rising fire that began to emanate from the adjoining quarters to 1Above. We presume the unmanageable nature at the preliminary source of the fire resulted in it's escalation to our property where all owners, staff and restaurant management from 1 Above engaged immediately in clearing the crowd from the establishment. There was no escape from Mojo’s Bistro therefore we believe that all their guests were told go through the premises of 1Above as we have an emergency exit. Hence patrons from Mojo's Bistro also began to rush into our premises as we helped the Fire Brigade that had arrived at the scene to evacuate guests. All our premises are well inspected and we have the requisite permissions for the same." 

Dec 29, 2017 - 16:39 (IST)

Security guard forcefully kept people inside small bathroom, says Prateek Thakur, an eyewitness

Prateek Thakur, 28, one of the survivors gives a detailed account of the incident. Thakur, who managed to escape on his own, sustained burns in his right hand while helping out others escape. 

"People were drunk. They were not in their senses and didn't realise that it will catch fire so soon. I started shouting. It was then that the public started running. They didn't realise that there was a barricade. They were drunk and were not even able to think that they should jump. They just stopped. There was nothing called a fire exit. 

I think there are 99% chances that the fire was caused by the hookah. There were at least 150 people. There were eight of us who were there. There is a washroom on the left of the gate. So, those people who couldn't get out they were hiding inside the bathroom. My brother-in-law Lokesh was also there.

The security guard had forcefully kept them inside the bathroom, and didn't allow them to come out. He seemed afraid that the fire will get inside the bathroom too. It was then that the DJ at the restaurant, a Sardar, yelled at the security guard. The moment the guard opened the door, the DJ ran and after him my wife's brother Lokesh also ran. If he had stayed inside little longer he may have been dead."

Dec 29, 2017 - 16:21 (IST)

BMC has been asked to inspect all such structures and demolish the ones that are illegal

Dec 29, 2017 - 16:13 (IST)

Watch: CM Devendra Fadnavis take stock of the situation

Dec 29, 2017 - 16:09 (IST)

​1Above denies violations, negligence, says no gas cylinders were kept on rooftop  

The management of 1Above, the restaurant where the fire broke out that eventually killed 14 people, claimed in a press release that no norms were flouted by the restaurant. Here's an excerpt from the statement. 

"1Above has all it's fire safety regulations, licenses, procedures and norms in place - we have been able to help save many lives thanks to our fire safety protocols and are grateful to our staff for their presence of mind and help in this time of crisis. To preempt any emergency, 1Above conducts a quarterly fire safety and crisis management training. This was also conducted recently for this quarter as per our vigilant practice for all our staff and managers. There are over 10 fire extinguishers and adequate fire safety signatures in the premises as is required by the authorities. As part of the same fire safety protocol, the fire exit dedicated to 1Above was maintained well as per rules and regulations - a reason why we were able to evacuate persons speedily. 

We would also like to clearly state that there were NO gas cylinders kept anywhere near our rooftop premises"

Our owners and staff members have personally assisted the fire brigade in their rescue operations and will continue to extend as much support as required for the same. We also offer full cooperation to all government authorities and concerned parties for any investigation that may be necessary."

Dec 29, 2017 - 15:51 (IST)

Illegal construction should be demolished at war footing, says CM Devendra Fadnavis

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the Kamla Mills compound to take stock of the situation. He said that he has already ordered a high-level probe headed by the BMC commissioner. "Five BMC officials have been suspended for negligence and the owners of these places have been booked. Anybody else found responsible for this tragedy will not be spared and strict action should be taken against them," Fadnavis said. 

He also added that BMC has has been directed to conduct audits at all such places where permissions have been granted. and all illegal structures should be "demolished at war footings."

Dec 29, 2017 - 15:37 (IST)

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis reaches Kamla Mills compound

Dec 29, 2017 - 15:33 (IST)

Congress corporator complained about irregularities few months back, BMC claimed no violations commited 

According to The Times of India, Congress corporator and leader of the opposition in the BMC Ravi Raja had complained to BMC against offices and restaurant violating rule, converting office premises or open space into restaurant. The BMC in a written reply to Raja stated that no violation was committed by any of the structure in Kamla Mill Compound.

Dec 29, 2017 - 15:27 (IST)

Five junior BMC officials suspended on charges of negligence: CNN-News18 

At least 14 people were killed and 21 persons injured after a major fire in a building in Kamala Mills Compound in Lower Parel. Most of the casualties were women who were attending a birthday party at one of the restaurants in the compound.

The fire broke out around 12:30am on the top floor of a four-storied building on Senapati Bapat Marg, a commercial hub of the city. The massive fire quickly engulfed the entire building after it started at '1 Above', a rooftop restaurant here and raged for several hours before it could be brought under control.

Kamala Mills fire updates Police launches manhunt for owners of pubs where blaze broke out both establishments deny violations

Firemen inspect the debris after a fire at a restaurant in Mumbai, India. Reuters

The fire broke out shortly after midnight on the third floor of the four-storeyed building on Senapati Bapat Marg, a commercial hub of the city, a civic official told PTI.

The injured were taken to the KEM, and Sion hospitals, the official from the BMC disaster management unit said.

Several fire tenders, water tankers, emergency ambulance and police personnel rushed to the spot for rescue operation, he said.

The building, in Central Mumbai, houses some commercial establishments including hotels.

According to the official, the cause of the fire remains to be ascertained.

Initial reports claimed that the fire started at a restaurant on top floor of the building.

NDTV reported that "those injured have been rushed to King Edward Memorial Hospital and some are believed to be in critical condition".

With inputs from agencies

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