BeyondHeadlines News Desk
Mumbai: Twenty-one people sustained burn injuries and more than 2,000 were rendered homeless in a fire that engulfed hutments in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on the late night of March 4.
The blaze broke out at 9 p.m. on Friday and was brought under control at 1 a.m. Saturday. The injured have been admitted to the Bhabha hospital, where some of them are in serious condition. However, there have been no reports of deaths yet.
Eyewitnesses said firemen were hampered by lack of space and policemen had a tough time controlling the milling crowds who showed signs of turning violent. All the gutted structures were allegedly encroachments. The locality is slated for redevelopment. A large number of slum dwellers were believed to be have been trapped in the blaze, the cause of which is yet to be determined.
The Harbour line was closed as a precautionary measure from 9.45 pm since the fire erupted close to the line which goes to the BDTS yard. Both lines share the power supply. Forty services were cancelled till 10.20 pm. Trains on the Western line were crawling in an attempt not to fan the flames. Services on the Harbour line resumed at 11.30 pm. The fire also caused the east side of the foot-overbridge connected to the skywalk to collapse.
The fire destroyed several homes, including that of Pervez, who was the coordinator for the child artistes of the Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire. The child artistes` hut also appeared to have been gutted. As the gathered crowd grew restive, a large number of policemen from nearby police stations rushed the spot.
The eleven injured were admitted to Bhabha Hospital in Bandra. Three were discharged and the rest are under observation.
In June 2009, a similar fire had broken out in the vicinity of Behrampada, claiming several lives. It took the fire brigade a couple of days to subdue the blaze. Residents had then alleged foul play, pointing fingers at the developer who wanted to redevelop the area.
The area close to the station in Bandra (east) is dotted by a cluster of slums and four-storey structures. There are various issues involved about their construction.
A probe has started to find out the cause of the incident.