Blaze kills 2 in Cuffe Parade apartment

Two persons were killed after a major fire broke out in two of the floors of a plush residential highrise in Cuffe Parade here on Tuesday.

The fire broke out on the 20th floor in the A-wing of Maker Tower at around 6.15 am and gutted a part of the duplex apartment owned by Shekhar Bajaj, the managing director of Bajaj Electricals.

Soon after receiving the alert, fire brigade’s eight fire engines, six jumbo tankers and one ambulance were pressed into action, said P Rahangdale, Chief Fire Officer of Mumbai Fire Brigade. “The cause of the fire can be ascertained once the panchnama is done,” he added. There are two flats on each floor of the 25-floor building and the fire spread from the 20th floor to the 21st floor.

“It was difficult breaking open the doors… On entering, we found that two persons had already succumbed to the burns. Fourteen people, including a woman and a baby girl, were rescued from the spot. Though the aerial ladder platform was put to use, most of the fire-fighting happened from within the flat. Low visibility and excessive smoke were creating problems. We used six breathing apparatus inside the flat to protect ourselves.”

According to an official, the fire control room got information at 6.37 am and at 6:45 am it was a level-three call.

The victims, identified as Pradeep Veer Kundan (22) and Ajay Ram (30), were employed with the Bajaj family for the past three years. They were trapped in the servant quarters and died after inhaling excessive smoke. The duo suffered around 40 to 50 percent burns. They were later moved to the government-run St. George Hospital near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).

Shekar Bajaj, his wife, Kiran Bajaj, son Anant Bajaj, daughter-in-law, Pooja Bajaj and grand-daughter, along with two maids and two others were rescued from flat no 201 & 211.The duplex house has eight bedrooms with each flat coming to 3,000 sq.ft.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone I, Manoj Kumar Sharma said, “As of now we have registered an Accidental Death Record (ADR). However, further action will be taken based on the fire brigade’s report depending on whether it was negligence or technical fault.”

By the time the fire was doused by 8:30 am, kitchen, servant quarter, staircase, furniture and false ceiling were gutted. “Most of the furniture and staircase were made of wood, one reason why the fire spread quickly. Besides, there were a few electronic appliances that too caught fire,” said a fire official.

“We, however, managed to move the gas cylinders to safe place. We also broke the glass panes of the windows so that the smoke doesn’t get clogged in the area,” he added.

Hardip Bubbar, joint secretary of Maker Tower said, “We are glad that our fire-safety equipment including the fire hose and sprinklers were in working condition, which helped the fire officials douse the fire easily. As soon as we got the news on the fire, we shut the lifts and electric supply. The fire officials entered from the terrace connecting both wings. While residents on the floors below 20th were rushed out to safety, those above the 21st floor had to be rescued via the terrace.”

A resident said on condition of anonymity: “We panicked on hearing the fire alarm. It was too early in the morning and chaos prevailed. However, within no time we were rescued via the terrace.”

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