THANE: A devastating fire broke out today in a four-storey residential building in the powerloom town of Bhiwandi here, gutting two floors and forcing nearly 170 trapped residents to move to the terrace before firemen began rescue operations and evacuated all of them safely.
The blaze began around 7 AM after a powerloom unit on the ground floor of the building at Nagoan caught fire and spread to the first floor, where yarn and other raw materials were stored, Vaishali Lambhate, tehsildar of Bhiwandi located about 35 km from Mumbai, said.
Both the floors housing a sizing unit as well as a goods godown were completely damaged in the mishap.
However, firemen prevented the raging flames from reaching the upper floors and there were no casualties, said Chief of the Disastar Control Cell of Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation, Namdeo Gaikwad.
According to Gaikwad, revenue officials were preparing the 'panchnama' to assess the damage/losses caused by the fire while civic officials were examining the other factors including the safety measures taken by the owner of the unit, he said.
Attributing the cause of the fire to a "short circuit", Lambhate said a criminal case will be soon filed in this regard.
Eyewitnesses said that chaos reigned at the mishap site this morning as locals ran out of the homes on seeing smoke emanating from the ground and first floor of the building.
According to Gaikwad, soon after the fire broke out, six fire tenders from Thane, Kalyan, Ulhasnagar and Bhiwandi were pressed into service and rescue operations were launched swiftly around 7.30 AM.
The trapped families were directed to move to the building terrace from where they were rescued later with the help of snorkel ladders brought by Thane and Kalyan fire brigade personnel, he said.
He said as many as 170 residents including women, elders and children stranded on the terrace were brought down safely.
The raging fire was doused around noon, an official said.