Video: Massive fire breaks out at Garib Nagar slums in Behrampada near Bandra station

Video: Massive fire breaks out at Garib Nagar slums in Behrampada near Bandra station
Firefighting is currently underway (Picture Courtesy: Chetan Chheda, Heyat Ali Mallik & Chandan Sontakke)

A massive fire broke out in the slums located in Behrampada near Bandra station on Thursday afternoon. The civic body was carrying out a demolition drive in the area earlier today.

The fire broke out in the slums located in Garib Nagar, Behrampada in Bandra (E) around 3 pm today.

The fire department was alerted about the Level II fire immediately following the incident. Fire officials, with eight fire engines and six water tankers, have arrived on the spot and fire fighting is currently underway.

According to preliminary information, the blaze started following a cylinder blast. However, an official statement from the department is awaited.

The slum dwellers have evacuated their homes and moved on to the road or the railway station. Authorities have also cordoned off parts of the station and the Bandra skywalk.

Meanwhile, Central Railway has reportedly suspended CSMT-Andheri and CSMT-Bandra services, which may cause inconvenience to Harbour line commuters travelling on the route in the evening. Services on CST-Panvel route are running.

“We have stopped Harbour line up and down services from 4.25 pm as a precautionary measure owing to fire near the Bandra station on the east side,” chief PRO of the Central Railway said.

No casualties have been reported as of publishing this.

Update (4:30 pm): Upon the arrival of fire officials, the call was escalated to Level-III at 3:48, post which additional fire tenders, water tankers and an ambulance were dispatched to the spot. The emergency vehicles faced a tough time reaching the exact spot due to the narrow lanes and overcrowding.

Update (5 pm): By 4:20 pm, the fire was escalated to Level-IV. “16 fire tenders and 12 water tankers are currently at the spot,” said Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale. A thick layer of smoke has engulfed the area and is visible from several kilometres.

Update (5:15 pm): The fire is believed to have started due to multiple cylinder blasts. Although, no casualties have been reported till now, authorities are trying to evacuate the area to prevent loss of life in the event of more blasts.

Update (5:25 pm): Services on the Harbour line have resumed and both Bandra Bhabha and VN Desai hospitals have been put on alert.

Update (5:40 pm): The fire has been escalated to Level-VI. One fireman has been injured during the fire fighting operation, which is still underway.

Update (5:55 pm): A part of the skywalk near the station’s eastern side has collapsed after getting caught up in flames.

Update (6:40 pm): The fire has been brought under control. Apart from the fireman, a local also sustained injuries, but is out of danger.

Video: Massive fire breaks out at Garib Nagar slums in Behrampada near Bandra station 5
More visuals of Bandra fire (Picture Courtesy: Rakesh Thanvi)

Incidentally, there was heavy police presence in the area already as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials of H-east ward were carrying out a demolition drive there since morning in accordance with a Bombay HC order.

The area near the skywalk has witnessed multiple fire related incidents over the last two years. The crowded area is surrounded with illegal’ high-rise shanties, which have been deemed a fire hazard by both the BMC and police.

Video: Massive fire breaks out at Garib Nagar slums in Behrampada near Bandra station 2
Visuals from BMC’s demolition drive earlier (Courtesy: Binu Varghese)

Some of the structures in the area are as high as a five-storey buildings and are used for commercial purposes. During a survey last year, officials identified over 350 five-storey shanties and 500 two/three-storey ones in the area.

The civic body has even tried to raze the structures multiple times in the past, but it has failed to make any permanent impact as locals continue building new shanties immediately after the demolition.

The demolition drives are often met with staunch opposition and hostility from locals, warranting heavy police presence.

Video: Massive fire breaks out at Garib Nagar slums in Behrampada near Bandra station 6
Visuals from BMC’s demolition drive earlier (Courtesy: Saikat Das)

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Note: This report will be updates with more details as and when they become available.

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