The fire that blazed through two restaurants in Mumbai’s Kamala Mills on Thursday resulted in the death of 14 and severely injuring many.
The death toll could have been much higher, had it not been for the presence of mind and quick action of two security guards deployed at the next building. Mahesh Sable and Suraj Giri, who work in the server room of Times Now, happened to notice the outbreak of the fire on the terrace of the four-storey building sometime around midnight.
While Suraj immediately turned to call the fire brigade, Mahesh climbed all the way to the fourth floor through pipes. Most paths to the top floor were blocked by lashing flames. Mahesh eventually broke open the exit door.
He even went the extra mile by entering the flame-engulfed floor and pulling out some 12 injured people to safety.
Most of those trapped could not locate the exit as the entire area had filled with thick and impenetrable smoke. They had been running helter-skelter, shouting for help.
What worked in favour of the guards in their rescue attempt was the fact that their office and the restaurants were part of the same complex – Trade House in Kamala Mills, because of which these spaces had interconnectivity.
“The smoke in the restaurant was black, so thick and pungent that one couldn’t breathe for even for two minutes. I covered my nose with my shirt and just went in and then I kept pushing people to the exit,” Mahesh told NDTV.
At the same time, Suraj remained on the ground floor and helped navigate people out with the best escape routes and help alleviate an escalating stampede. Together, they were able to save lives of more than 150 guests.
A salute to these brave young men who risked their own lives to save hundreds of others.