Maharashtra CM's office, 3 floors gutted

Cause still unknown; 2 dead, 16 injured
Last Updated : 21 June 2012, 20:05 IST
Last Updated : 21 June 2012, 20:05 IST

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Two persons were burnt alive as major fire gutted three-floors of the seven storeyed Mantralaya, Maharashtra Secretariat, here in the posh and swanky Nariman Point, on Thursday afternoon. 

The bodies, which were charred beyond recognition, were found on the sixth floor of the building, housing Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister's offices.  Sixteen people sustained injuries in the fire with one of them reportedly to be under medical watch at the nearby state-run St George Hospital, in south Mumbai.

Over two dozen fire tenders along with fire engines from Indian Navy battled for long to contain the fire. Flames were seen licking out of southern wing windows of fourth, fifth and sixth floors housing Chief Minister, Urban Development, Revenue, Home, Deputy Minister offices of the secretariat.

Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister held a meeting with top state government officials to take a stock of the situation.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan has ordered an inquiry by Crime Branch.

The fire was first spotted at around 3.00 pm, in the vicinity of State Tribal Minister Babanrao Pachpute’s office.

Within minutes, wide roads winding around the secretariat building were closed by the traffic police and dozens of water tankers, massive hose guns and aerial ladders from the nearby fire station were pressed into service and ambulances were kept on alert.

As the hot and dark inky smoke came out of the building, there were rumours hinting at ‘possible sabotage to burn files relating to Adarsh scam.’

The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.  Talking to media outside the secretariat, State Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam dismissing rumours of conspiracy doing rounds in the television news channels, said: “ The files are all intact. They are with the CBI and Judicial Commission.”

Thousands of government employees and visitors escaped from the multiple exit points in the 57-year-old building comprising three wings interconnected with wide-bodied catwalks. However, despite the mad rush and oral warnings, several employees in fifth and sixth floor took refuge in fire-escape outside the windows while scores of them took shelter at the terrace.

The fire brigade used aerial ladders to rescue trapped people; later in the evening naval helicopters were pressed into emergency services to scan the terrace. According to state government employees milling around on the road watching the fire men fighting the blaze, the warning of fire first came from the fourth floor. Strong winds from Marine Drive sea-side, barely a couple of hundred yards away from the building, fanned the flames, spreading it to the other two floors.”

Majority of the people in the building came to know about the fire through shouting and not through any fire alarm. There have been complaints of lack of fire safety alarms and equipmentsin the plywood furniture saturated offices for quite sometime.

Published 21 June 2012, 16:37 IST

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