'Panic claimed 9 lives at Carlton'

'Panic claimed 9 lives at Carlton'

The report, which was also submitted to the Fire and Emergency Department, says while panic was one of the prime reasons for the tragic loss of life and property, that could have been averted “if the intervention in the original electrical wiring had been handled professionally instead of a cut and paste work” and “timely communication about the incident would have prevented the deaths”.

According to the report, it is now confirmed that the fire started between the first and second floors in the electric shaft.

“The heat source appears to be electrically induced heated and ignition of power cables,” the report states.

Faulty sprinkler

The doors to the two emergency exit staircases of the building were found locked, had faulty and defunct sprinkler, besides missing fire extinguishers.
The Carlton Towers mishap had raised serious questions on the safety regulations followed by the owners of the building.

With 161 owners as per the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) records, the building was found having flouted safety regulations.
This has been confirmed by the Fire and Emergency Services investigation team that looked into the matter on March 3.

In its report to the government, the Fire Department blamed the Carlton Towers management and building security for not opening any of the exits “which were locked for reasons unknown”.

Blockage

The report adds that due to modification and additional construction on the second, third and fourth floors, the resulting blockage of the common corridors left the occupants of the three floors above with only one central staircase to escape.

The report, prepared by a five member investigation team, has shown serious negligence and lack of safety measures having caused the mishap.  

The report places the onus on the building owners for “re-drawing” the building design after it received a no-objection certificate from the Fire and Emergency Department in 1993. The investigation team found that most of the safety regulations were “missing” when the fire occurred. The setback or the vacant space was encroached upon in the building due to “two big hoardings on the southern side, generators/transformers on the south-east and north-east corners and two LPG gas bunks on the northern side.”

The team observed that Carlton Towers, which was given permission to house a shopping area while the rest of floors were rented out to firms, allowed the “mushrooming” of 63 offices in 92 compartments between the first and seveneth floors.

In addition, four restaurants operated on the ground floor. “Further, four mobile towers with independent diesel generators and seven separate diesel generators have been installed at the terrace level with spare diesel in cans,” the report says.

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