Ashes of the Phoenix

India Today - - MAIL -

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.


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