A massive fire broke out at Maharashtra's state secretariat or Mantralaya building in south Mumbai this afternoon. More than 25 fire engines are fighting the flames - around 60-70 per cent of the fire has been brought under control, but it will take another three to four hours to completely put it out. Reports suggest that all the people who were trapped inside have been evacuated. At least eight people have been injured in the fire; two of them seriously. However, no casualties have been reported so far. (See Pics)
The fire began on the fourth floor of the building at around 2:45 pm and reached the sixth floor where Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's office is located. The Chief Minister was inside the building but was rescued. The Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister's offices have been heavily damaged in the fire.
There were over 5000 people inside the seven-storey building when the fire broke out. Cranes were used to bring people down to safety. Force One, Maharashtra's elite security force, and city police's Quick Response Team were also called in for help. Mumbai fire brigade has announced 'brigade call' - this means every fireman and fire engine has to report to the fire spot. Oxygen vans have also been sent to the spot for the people who have been rescued.
Speaking to NDTV, Patang Rao Kadam, Forest Minister, said that around 2500 employees and 3000 public were rescued from the building within 30 minutes and that the combing operations are on.
The exact cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained. But sources say air conditioning short circuit may have caused it.
Smoke from the fire has also spread to the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST railway station), about four kilometres away from the fire spot. Smoke is also visible from Marine Drive.
All roads to the Mantralaya from Flora Fountain and Churchgate have been blocked. JJ Flyover near the Mantralaya building has been closed to civilian traffic.