Altogether 14 people were killed and at least 16 injured after a fire broke out in a rooftop restaurant and engulfed a four-storey building in Mumbai’s thriving Kamala Mills complex late Thursday night, raising concerns over fire-safety norms in the city’s commercial hubs.
It was to be a ‘girls night out’ to celebrate the purchase of a new car. But the fire at two rooftop restaurants in Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel made it the saddest day for a family from Ghatkopar. (14 KILLED IN BLAZE)
On Thursday, eight cousins and two of their daughters gathered at Ghatkopar for lunch at a relative’s place. They suddenly made a plan to celebrate the new car, which Tejal Gandhi’s husband gifted her on their wedding anniversary. Tejal and Kavita Dharani unanimously suggested they could celebrate in a pub, 1 Above. Tejal and Kavita, both 36, did not survive the fire.
Pashmina Parikh, Gandhi’s sister, while recalling the previous day’s incident, said she decided to opt out of the plan after lunch owing to the commute between Kamala Mills and her home in Goregaon. The aunt also skipped the dinner. “Tejal was the youngest among all of us. My father still can’t get over the visual of his daughter’s dead body,” Parikh said.
The group had left for Kamala Mills a little after 9.30pm, and had to wait for more than half-an-hour for a table to be allotted to them. Just some time later, while they were having momos, the fire broke out and people started running to escape the fire.
Another couple, who was sitting right next to the group, with whom they exchanged pleasantries, died in the fire.
While, the other seven cousins ran towards various exits, Gandhi and Dharani decided to rush towards the washroom, assuming they would be safe there because the interiors in the pub were made of wood.
Meghana Thakkar, Gandhi’s sister, who survived with some burns, tried to find her way out through the kitchen.
Dharani’s uncle, Nemish Shah, said the family is a close knit one and they would have often have gatherings, one of which was planned for Friday morning. Shah demanded the authorities should check the security exits and arrangements before providing licences.
“My niece told me the exit door was so small that only person could pass from there, while there were things kept on stairs, which led to a stampede kind-of situation,” Shah said.
Dharani’s sister, Shefali Dharani, who survived the incident said she didn’t spot any firefighting equipment in the pub. “It didn’t seem like that was firefighting equipment in place. Nor was there provision for oxygen. If at all there would have been, it was too dark to spot,” said Shefali.
Shefali’s daughter who was present there too was caught in the stampede, but was later rescued by one of her neighbours.
Namita Malde, Kavita’s friend, said the bodies didn’t have any burn marks as they died of suffocation. “Although Tejal’s sister got a chance to exit, Tejal couldn’t escape,” Malde said.