Security guard dies after jumping off 19th floor as fire breaks out in Mumbai high-rise

Arun Tiwari used to work as a security person in the building — One Avighna Park — and had gone up to the 19th floor to help residents down to safety when he got trapped in the fire. In an unsuccessful attempt to escape, he fell to his death from the balcony of the apartment.

“Tiwari went inside the flat to check if any other person was stuck. However, the fire started spreading and he got trapped. He got scared and tried to hold on to a ledge on the balcony to save himself. But unfortunately, he fell,” said a resident from the building.

His fall was broken by a terrace-like extension on one of the floors below. He was taken to KEM Hospital where doctors declared him dead.

Tiwari’s desperate attempt to hang on to the ledge and his horrific fall were captured on video, which got circulated on social media.

Mumbai fire, Mumbai news, Lower Parel building fire, Mumbai building fire, Mumbai fire death, Mumbai latest news, indian express Fire was reported from the 19th floor of a residential building in Lower Parel. (Express Photo: Amit Chakravarty)

The owner of the flat where the fire erupted, Samit Rathode, had moved in only 20 days back, according to the residents. At the time of the incident he was out at work. His wife and children were present in the flat, but they manage to escape to safety.

Workers engaged in doing up the interiors of an adjacent flat said that they ran down the stairs when they saw plumes of smoke coming out from flat number 1902.

“We ran down the staircase as the lift was shut,” said Rahul Kumar, who lives in Dharavi.

Some residents said that a minor fire had broken out in the building during the Ganeshotsav this year. However, no one was injured at the time.

According to a senior official from Mumbai Fire Brigade, while the fire alarm was functional, the firefighting system of the building was initially not fully operational, which caused a delay in preventing the spread of fire.

“Sprinklers were not working and there was very less pressure in the hose lines. We had to make the equipment operational manually. The fire alarm was functional. We will check the records of the society, if they have submitted six monthly fire audit reports,” said a fire brigade official.

Residents also alleged that the building’s firefighting system was initially not functional.

Officials said the fire could have been triggered due to a short circuit. The fire that started from the 19th floor apartment spread to the flat directly above it on the 20th floor, damaging it completely. “The fire spread to the upper floor. However, the flat was empty, and it did not spread further,” said another fire official.

The fire was doused at 3.30pm. Meanwhile, the fire brigade used its highest ladder van, a 90-meters snorkel for firefighting. “We have rescued 16 people from the building through the staircase. The snorkel was raised up to 70 meters. On the upper floors, wind velocity was very high so the fire spread rapidly,” Hemant Parab, Chief Fire Officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade told The Indian Express.

Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal ordered a probe into the incident “to ascertain the cause of the fire and look after other issues”.

Residents said that apartment owners had started moving in only recently. They also spoke about disputes between the builder and residents.

“The builder has not handed over the rights even though the society was formed in 2019,” said Jeetu Jain, a resident of the building.

The twin tower 60-storey One Avighna Park, the city’s first cluster redevelopment, was given occupational certificate (OC) in 2018.

“The building was given OC in 2018. We have not received any complaints regarding illegal construction or addition in the building,” Swapnja Kshirsagar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, F-south (Parel, Sewree) said.

The developer has claimed that a fire audit of the building was carried out at the beginning of the month. “The unfortunate incident happened due to some internal issue within the flat on the 19th floor, but thankfully our fire and safety systems prevented it from becoming bigger. The situation is under control now. A full building audit and fire training is regularly done, as recently as 1 Oct, 2021,” Nishant Agarwal, Managing Director of Avighna Group, said in a statement.

One Avighna Park, a super luxury residential building, has two wings, with 3, 4 and 5-BHK sky villas, duplexes and sky mansions. The prices of flats range between Rs 12 crore and Rs 55 crore, making it one of the costliest real estate projects in the city. There are around 300 flats in the buildings of which nearly 200 have been occupied.

Touted as south Mumbai’s crown jewel project, it has 1.5 lakh square feet recreation facilities such as swimming pools, club houses, gyms and children play zone.

Following the incident, Mayor Kishori Pednekar has called a meeting with zonal deputy municipal commissioners on fire incidents.

When asked if an FIR will be registered for causing death due to negligence, Vijay Patil, deputy commissioner of police (zone 4), said, “As of now, a case of accidental death has been registered at the Kalachowki police station. Our investigation is on.”

–Inputs from Jayprakash Naidu.