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Poor exigency and fire preparedness exposed again as fires jolt Mumbai at the height of the monsoon

Mumbai saw several fire accidents in the midst of monsoons this year exposing the soft underbelly of
the city’s exigency and fire preparedness yet again. The latest was in the upscale Bandra MTNL facility
which was massive. Just a day earlier, Churchill Chambers in Colaba experienced a tragic fire accident.
There have been more than 49,000 fire incidents in Mumbai in the last decade, killing over 600 people,
the Maharashtra government said in the Assembly in November 2018. A massive fire in two pubs
located in the Kamala Mills Compound have claimed 14 lives on December 29, 2017. In another horrific
incident, 12 people were killed in a blaze at a snack shop in Saki Naka-Kurla area on December 18, 2017.
CHURCHILL CHAMBERS BLAZE
On Sunday, 21st July, a team of firemen were inspecting safety equipment in a nearby building when
they noticed smoke billowing from a neighborly building called Churchill Chambers (Colaba). Ishwar
Kamble and his team rushed to the site with hosepipe and turntable ladder. One Shyam Iyer, 54,
succumbed in the incident.
 
As per detailed reports, one person died and another was injured while 13 others had to be rescued that
Sunday morning. The deceased had gone to the innermost room of an apartment to protect himself
from the fire. One of his neighbors inhaled a lot of smoke and had to be moved to an Intensive Care
Unit. The Fire Brigade rescued 13 others using ladders and other methods.
The incident occurred around noon on Sunday at Colaba’s Churchill Chambers, a ground-plus-three-
storey residential building located behind Taj Mahal Hotel. The building is largely a wooden structure
with reinforcements.
 
The fire broke out in one of the apartments on the third floor but its source could not be exactly
ascertained. It was confined to the third floor flat and the staircase leading to the second floor. The Fire
Brigade, which categorized the fire as Level II (minor), sent four fire engines and four tankers to the
spot.