Ashes of the Phoenix
In a matter of three hours it was over— one of Bombay’s oldest mills at Lower Parel, the Phoenix mills, set up over 90 years ago, was reduced to smouldering ashes on September 22. Over a 100 firemen who smashed rooftops to gain entry, fought one of their toughest battles, only to finally bow to the wrath of the flames. Unofficial estimates of the loss in the insured mill has been put at Rs 5 crore. With the shutting of the mill a certainty, at least for a few weeks, over 6,000 workers have been laid off overnight. The blaze was reported at about 11.52 a. m. in the spinning section and started spreading rapidly. Luckily, it was recess hour and no one was trapped. Firemen who arrived minutes later had to waste precious seconds trying to break down a section of the entrance as it was too low for their vans to enter. When the firemen entered, they could not locate the origin of the flames— all they could see was a thick pall of smoke which blinded them completely. Strangely, the fire sprinklers refused to work. The Fire Brigade is inquiring into the cause of the fire, but insiders point out that nothing may come out of it. “There has been such a massive burnout that we won’t have any worthwhile technical evidence,” said a Fire Brigade official. The Phoenix fire is not an isolated mill fire. In the past one year, there has been at least one mill fire every month but all of them have been controlled well in time. In the Phoenix mills, the loss is said to be running into several crores of rupees.
PHOENIX MILLS— GUTTED BYFIRE