Massive fire at 'Make in India' cultural event in Mumbai,stage gutted

Last Updated 14 February 2016, 17:09 IST
A massive fire tonight engulfed the stage at a cultural event held at Girgaum Chowpatty seafront here where a string of film celebrities and political leaders were present as part of the high-profile 'Make in India' investment meet but there were no casualties.

The fire that broke out at around 8.22 pm was put under control, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters.

"No casualties reported, no one is injured," he said.

All the VVIPs including Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan were safely evacuated to safer areas. The programme was later called off.

Bachchan had left the stage a few minutes before the fire started.

The disaster management plan put in place ensured the safe passage of the people attending the event--"Maharashtra Rajni", Fadnavis, who personally monitored the evacuation operation from the venue, said.

The blaze was brought under control in quick time by 14 fire engines and 10 water tankers with swift evacuation of thousands of people.

The exact cause of the fire that broke out one hour after the entertainment segment had begun was not known but state BJP spokesman Atul Shah, who was seated in the front row, said the fire apparently broke out from beneath the stage.

Shiv Sena MLA Vijay Shivtare said a spark was noticed beneath the stage, which was a "wooden structure", before the fire broke out. Shivtare said there were 500 artistes behind the stage and an estimated 50,000 people, several of them VIPs, had assembled at the venue.

Actor Vivek Oberoi, who was at one of the flanks of the stage and was getting ready to perform another event, said the flames leapt 4O to 50 feet high and there was threat of it spreading to nearby tents beause of the strong sea breeze but things were brought under control because of timely coordination between various agencies.

The blaze broke out when a lavani (dance) performance was underway.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday had stayed a Bombay High Court order and allowed the Maharashtra government to hold an event at Girgaum Chowpatty beach to kickstart the 'Make in India Week' programme, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Fadnavis said a comprehensive inquiry was ordered into the fire and other 'Make in India' events will not be affected.

"I must compliment the authorities for quick action, they saved lives of many people," said Ashish Shelar, BJP leader.

"I was watching a dance performance when this happened, then suddenly the stage was engulfed by smoke. I was backstage when this happened. Authorities were quick to react and evacuated people from there," actor Isha Koppikar said.

Lyricist Prasoon Joshi said he was there at the event because Amitabh Bachchan was reciting His poem. "As soon as the recital got over, I left the venue and another event started and suddenly the fire broke out,"  

Fadnavis said the venue was evacuated immediately and traffic management allowed early disbursal without any trouble.

"A fire safety audit was conducted prior to the programme and all SOPs were followed. Number of fire fighting equipment were kept stationed at venue. A comprehensive inquiry into the incidence of fire will be conducted to ascertain the reason," he said.

Superstar Aamir Khan said, "It was a very bad fire and spread at an alarming speed due to wind. I am fortunate to be alright. Police and fire dept did a wonderful job in evacuating people. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Evacuation was smooth".

Event Manager Sabbas Joseph said, "Everyone is safe and fire is under control".
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray hailed the role of Mumbai police and Fire officials in putting out the flames swiftly.

"Unfortunate fire at Make in India event at Chowpatty. As of now all safe, great efforts by @Mumbai Police and Fire dept. in evacuation," he tweeted.

NCP leader Sachin Ahir alleged that the "shoddy planning and organisation (of event) led to the tragedy".

"Action should be taken for those responsible for the fire," he said.

On the incident, actor Shreyas Talpade said, "I was going on stage after a dance performance and during that performance someone noticed a fire on the stage and informed the authorities.

"People who were performing on the stage could not see the blaze. But the authorities, including the disaster management team, acted immediately. If anyone had stayed on the stage even for a minute, it would have been disastrous," he told PTI.

Actor Vivek Oberoi said the incident occurred when a dance performance was underway.

"After hosting the show, I went to change and my performance was lined up next.

There was a dance performance going on and this unfortunate incident happened.

It was due to wind that the blaze engulfed the stage.

"The organisers immediately switched off the music and started evacuating people including the VIPs and common people very systematically. I stayed back to help the police, Fire officials who handled this crisis very well. We should not think it (the mishap) as a dampener and should not dwell on it". 

(Published 14 February 2016, 15:45 IST)

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