MUMBAI: A day after a devastating blaze at a central Mumbai pub claimed 14 lives, fire brigade officials today said it was probing whether flames during a fire stunt by a bartender, burning coal used for hookah or a short circuit led to the tragedy.
The blaze had started after 12.30 am on Friday at the '1 Above' pub on the terrace of Trade House Building in Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel, a commercial hub, resulting in collapse of its bamboo-propped canopy. The fire, which left several people injured, also engulfed Mojo's Bistro, a pub a storey below. Most of the 14 victims died of asphyxiation.
"We are probing if the flames created during a fire stunt by a bartender at the pub came in contact with plastic sheets that covered the bamboo structure and triggered the blaze. We are also trying to find out whether the burning coal used for hookah at the adjacent restaurant led to the tragedy," a fire official said.
All other possibilities, including that of short circuit is also being probed, he added.
The police have booked Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka of C Grade Hospitality, which manages the pub, along with others, under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).
After the fire, some escaped to safety, while others found their way blocked by fire and suffocating smoke. Many panicked patrons took shelter in a toilet, where they were asphyxiated to death.
Among those killed was Khushbu Bansali, the woman who was celebrating her 29th birthday at '1 Above' pub in upscale Parel's Kamala Mill compound, and several of her friends.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) yesterday suspended five officials, including those attached to the G- South ward for dereliction of duty. There are allegations that civic authorities turned a blind eye to construction irregularities and violation of fire safety norms in the compound.
The same central Mumbai area--a former textile mill district now dotted by swanky glass-and-concrete towers--had witnessed death of 23 people in a stampede at a railway bridge on September 29 this year.