A fire broke out at the 33-storey Beau Monde towers in Prabhadevi on Wednesday afternoon. While the fire brigade evacuated all residents, two firemen complained of breathlessness and were taken to a hospital.
The blaze erupted at 2 p.m in Harish Abhiyani’s penthouse spread over the 32nd and 33rd floors in A wing. Mr. Abhiyani is a non-resident Indian, and the flat was undergoing repairs at the time of fire, but no labourers were trapped.
Actor Deepika Padukone lives on the 26th floor of the building, apart from businessmen and developers.
The fire brigade reached at 2.15 p.m. for what was initially a level II (minor) fire, reportedly caused due to a short circuit. Six fire engines were sent to the spot.
At 2.46 p.m., the fire was categorised as level III (medium). Twelve fire engines and eight water tankers were despatched with Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale turning up. The cause of fire is under investigation.
Nearly 95 people had been moved to safety by 2.45 p.m. “I was at the gate when I heard commotion. Residents were running downstairs. Someone said there had been a short circuit on the 32nd floor,” Arif Khan, one of the security guards at Beau Monde, said.
Following anxious queries from well-wishers, Ms. Padukone tweeted about her safety around 5 p.m. “I am safe. Thank you everyone . Let us pray for our fire fighters who are at the site risking their lives.”
The fire brigade entered the building from two sides. Since the building’s power supply was cut off, firefighters trudged 30 floors up and down multiple times.
The blaze was initially restricted to the penthouse, but around 4 p.m., it spread to a flat on the 31st floor. The occupants of the flat were in the building, but were rescued. The penthouse and the flat have suffered heavy damage.
The building’s firefighting equipment was functional at the time. Its dry risers were used to carry eight hoses up to the site, which saved firemen crucial time.
“As the building’s internal fire installation was working, we could operate six-eight jets on the upper floors using breathing sets. The internal system helped tremendously to contain the spread,” a statement issued by Mr. Rahangdale said.
The firefighters also faced intense heat and smoke on the upper floors, possibly due to its glass facade. Firemen had to break open windows to allow ventilation. The turntable ladder could not be used as residents were evacuated early on.
At least twice when it appeared that the fire had been doused, it flared up again. Some residents even suggested the use of a fire ball but it was not required.
Two firemen Harishchandra Raorane (54) and Shivaji Achrekar (53) suffered breathlessness. They were sent to KEM Hospital and are reportedly stable.
Local Shiv Sena corporator Kishori Pednekar said the incident raised questions on the safety of buildings with glass facade. “There are many such buildings in the area. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation should inspect if they have the necessary permissions. If they don’t, the glass facade needs to be removed immediately,” Ms. Pednekar said.
Another Sena corporator Samadhan Sarvankar also raised questions on the building’s fire audit.
Around 6.30 p.m., the fire brigade announced the fire is under control. Cooling operations were under way at the time of going to press.