Kamala Mills fire in Mumbai shows nobody cares for safety

At least 14 people have died and about one dozen more have been injured in the fire that broke out in Lower Parel.

 |  3-minute read |   29-12-2017
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At least 14 people died and close to a dozen were injured after a massive fire broke out at Kamala Mills compound in Mumbai's Lower Parel suburb on Friday (December 29) just after midnight. The deceased include 11 women, most of them in their late twenties and early thirties.

fire690_122917011103.jpgThe Kamala Mills premises on fire.

The fire reportedly started at the restaurant 1 Above inside the compound's premises during the birthday celebrations of one of the deceased and, tragically, the list of casualities includes many who were at the party.

Eyewitness accounts

It is believed the fire spread quickly leaving little time for people to react or escape.

The fire is believed to have been so massive that it caused the ceiling of the restaurant to collapse.

What caused the deaths?

Initial reports suggest all deaths happened due to suffocation and not because of fire-related injuries. The fire quickly spread from the top-floor restaurant throughout the four-storey building.

kamla690_122917011204.jpgAfter the fire.

A News18 report said that in the chaos that followed the blaze, several women rushed to the men's washroom to save themselves. Tragically, it proved to be a death trap as the washroom had no ventilation and choked them to death.

Rescue efforts

It took about 12 fire tenders over five hours to douse the blaze.

kamala_122917011338.jpgOffices gutted.

In addition to the fire tenders, four water tankers and an emergency ambulance were pushed into service to fight the blaze.

Why Kamala Mills turned deathbed

Kamala Mills in central Mumbai is among the sprawling mill compounds that have evolved into bustling hubs of restaurants, pubs and offices over the years. An increasing number of restaurants in the 37-acre premises in Lower Parel has turned the complex into a popular nightlife haunt. Several media offices are also housed in the complex.

Regular visitors to the area tweeted about how Friday's tragedy was waiting to happen with authorities doing little to pre-empt it. Almost every fire tragedy in India has highlighted the fact that more people die not because of the fire itself but because there are no escapes or exit routes available.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that most fire safety equipment are found to be non-functional every time such a tragedy unfolds.

Ironically, just a day before the Kamala Mills fire, a DNA report brought to fore the fact that as many as 4,500 thousand high-rises in the city were not fire-safe. This means the lives of lakhs of those staying in the 4,500 buildings are only at the mercy of fate.

victim690_122917011735.jpgA victim being moved to the hospital.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade have failed in not just creating awareness about fire safety but also in ensuring that safety regulations are followed in letter and spirit.

While the cause of the fire remains a matter of investigation, the apathy of authorities in ensuring safer public spaces is a story so routine that it fails to enrage us.

Also read: Triple talaq bill: Why we need to doubt Modi government's intentions


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