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March 23, 2018
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Fire guts Kalachowki godown, nearby chawl evacuatedThick smoke, narrow lanes impede fire brigade effort; no casualties reported

Over 200 people were asked to leave buildings surrounding a warehouse in Kalachowki, after a fire broke out in it around noon on Tuesday. Fire department officers said the blaze broke out on the ground floor of a two-storeyed structure on the premises of Eastern Metal Works, and smoke filled surrounding buildings. No casualties were reported.

Fire officers said they reached the spot at 11.51 a.m., and after fighting the blaze for close to 20 minutes, declared it Level IV. Sixteen fire engines and 12 jumbo tankers were pressed into service, and the fire was extinguished at 2.15 p.m. Rescue operations began after this, officers said.

They said the structure, a warehouse, was divided into four units and was used by dealers to store their stock. According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out in Unit No. 3, which was being used to store spare parts for TV sets. The other units stored confectionery goods, biscuits, incense sticks, ceramic tiles and cloth and garments.

The blaze was confined to the ground floor with mezzanine floor in a 200×200 ft area, and damaged packaging material, paint containers, painting rolls, electric wiring, ceramic furniture, gas cylinders and other material. It led to cracks forming on the west side of the structure, and completely destroyed the ground floor of three units. The only one spared contained ceramic goods. “Stock worth ₹18 lakh to ₹20 lakh was completely destroyed,” Shirish Jain, a dealer of Parle biscuits, said.

200 led to safety

More than 200 people were evacuated by the fire brigade as thick smoke engulfed neighbouring buildings. Eastern Metal Works is situated on a narrow lane and surrounded by residential buildings, a nursing home and a pre-school. As the smoke spread in the area, fire brigade personnel had to evacuate Sitaram Chawl, located adjacent to the burning warehouse.

Dr. Vaibhav Khorlekar at Aastha Nursing Home said, “The smoke affected our patients. One of them in the psychiatric ward became restless due to the smoke.” Patients from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) were shifted to Mansi hospital in Matunga, while routine appointments were rescheduled.

Chief Fire Officer P.S. Rahangdale said, “The godown was surrounded by congested hutments, which gave fire fighters very little room. The approach road was also narrow. The smoke led to general panic in the vicinity.” He added that it was too early to ascertain the cause. “The fire brigade will be conducting an investigation.”

Property papers burnt?

The godown was earlier a metal factory that had been set up in 1949. In the early 1990s, it was shut down and converted into a storage unit.

Ishfak Nathawala, owner of Eastern Metal Works, said, “A tenant called around 12.30 p.m. to say a fire had broken out. I immediately rushed here. Fortunately, there were no casualties reported.” He said the fire department has asked him to submit documents related to the property. “I fear they may have been destroyed in the fire.”