Mumbai: A massive fire broke out Monday in MTNL building here, leaving 84 people stranded on the terrace of the nine-storey structure all of whom were rescued by fire brigade personnel, an official said.
A fireman, Sagar Salve (25), inhaled smoke during firefighting operation following which he was admitted to Bhabha Hospital, he said.
The 25-year-old is stable and his condition is out of danger, he said.
A search was on to locate people who may have been trapped on the fire-affected third, fourth, fifth and other floors of the telephone exchange building in suburban Bandra, he said.
Armed with searchlights, other equipment and donning fire protection suits, fire brigade personnel searched these floors, the official said.
For the first-time, a newly-introduced robot, Robofire, was used to control the blaze, the official said.
The blaze started at around 3pm at the MTNL building, which incidentally, is located near a fire brigade centre in suburban Bandra.
As it was a working day, many persons, mostly employees of the state-run telecom firm, were present inside the building, he said.
As the fire started on the third and fourth floors, panic-stricken people started running out of the building. People who were on upper floors went to the terrace to save themselves, the official said.
All the 84 people stranded on the terrace were safely evacuated, he said.
At least 14 fire engines, newly-introduced Robofire, an ambulance, aerial ladders and other firefighting equipment were deployed to douse the flames and rescue people, he said.
Due to strong winds and thick smoke billowing out of the building, fire brigade personnel faced difficulties in dousing the flames, he said, some nearby buildings were also affected.
People trapped on the terrace were seen screaming and frantically seeking help as they used handkerchiefs to avoid inhalation of smoke.
The cause of the fire was not yet known.
“We came down from the fifth floor via lift. We saw fire brigade personnel bringing out some people from a smoke- filled floor,” a woman said.
Another woman, who also managed to come out of the building, said, “When we came to know of the fire, we searched for the staircase, which had become partially invisible due to heavy smoke.”
“We had closed the windows and doors of our office. Fire brigade people came and rescued us,” she said. There were still six to seven persons on the floor from where she was rescued, she added.
A woman, who was rescued using an aerial ladder, was seen shooting the scene around with her mobile phone even as she was being lowered to the ground.
Visuals on TV showed smoke billowing from the building and people on the terrace trying to signal those below.
The incident comes a day after one person died and two others were injured in a four-storey residential building located behind the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in south Mumbai.
This is latest in a series of fire incidents in the metropolis in the last few years.
There have been over 49,000 fire incidents in Mumbai in the last one decade, killing more than 600 people, the Maharashtra government had told the assembly in November 2018.
A massive fire in two pubs located in the Kamala Mills Compound here had claimed 14 lives on December 29, 2017.
Besides, 12 people were killed in a blaze at a snack shop in Saki Naka-Kurla area on December 18, 2017.