The fire at a factory of a chemical company in Dombivli, 31 kilometre from Mumbai, was extinguished around 4 am on Wednesday, 15 hours after it started. The blaze at Metropolitan Eximxchem private limited in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) led to over 100 explosions.
“The fire has been extinguished around 4 am while the cooling process is till underway. The area is still covered under smoke. Four fire tenders of ours was kept at the site overnight for fire fighting and cooling operations,” said Dilip Gund, chief fire officer, Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation. There were no injuries or casualties reported.
An inquiry will be conducted to investigate whether the factory was following fire safety regulations, said Thane collector Rajesh Narvekar, who visited the spot.
The fire broke out at around 1 pm on Tuesday in the company that manufactures 18 types of solvents. Workers were able to evacuate the building quickly. As there were flammable chemicals in the building, multiple explosions were heard by locals. All those in offices, schools and other buildings within a 500-metre radius of the fire were evacuated and nearby roads were blocked as preventive measure. Later, the fire spread to a cardboard manufacturing company located behind the Metropolitan Eximchem.
Fire departments from Thane, Bhiwandi, Kalyan-Dombivli, Navi Mumbai and Ambernath dispatched 15 fire tenders, 100 firemen and 14 water tankers to douse the blaze. Firefighting operations continued late into the night. A team of 20 personnel from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was also sent to the site on Tuesday evening.
“Thick smoke was released since the factory manufactures 18 types of chemicals. The entire factory has been charred in the incident. There were small explosions as well. We suspect a boiler inside the plant might have also exploded due to the blaze,” added Gund.
As a precautionary measure, approximately 150 residents of Mhatre Pada, a nearby locality, were evacuated. Gajanan Mhatre, 55, reached his home soon after the fire broke out. “People were suffocating due to the thick smoke (from the fire),” he said, adding that some people felt sick and complained of throat aches.
Locals alleged Metropolitan Eximchem is one of five highly hazardous units operating in MIDC, Dombivli. “According to a Right to Information inquiry I’d filed earlier, this company has been listed as highly dangerous,” said Raju Nalawade, secretary, Dombivli Housing Welfare Association.
Thane collector Rajesh Narvekar visited the spot along with tehsildar Deepak Aakade, and Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) Commissioner Vijay Suryavanshi.
Earlier this month, after pollutants turned a road in MIDC Dombivli pink, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had directed factory owners to categorise dangerous and extremely dangerous factories in the area.