Mumbai: Firefighters in Mumbai worked through the night on Thursday to bring the blaze at the Mantralaya building which houses the state secretariat under control. Two people have died and one was missing. The Crime Branch began its probe even as the Opposition called for an independent probe suspecting a sabotage angle as key files related to Adarsh and other scams were kept in the secretariat.
Bystanders spot smoke coming out of a fourth floor window of the Mantralaya building at 2:40 pm on Thursday. By 3 pm the fire not only engulfed the fourth floor but also began spreading to the sixth floor of the state secretariat.
But before it could be tamed, it had destroyed the Chief Minister's and the Deputy Chief Minister's offices. In an hour and a half, it went from being a minor fire to a brigade call, which meant emergency fire assistance from out of Mumbai was called.
Papers at the crucial Urban Development Ministry were destroyed, but the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) later said that the papers related to the Adarsh Society scam were safe.
While the administration first believed there were no casualties, at least two people were discovered dead on the sixth floor. But more than 3,000 people were evacuated.
The fire is believed to have originated at the office of the Tribal Welfare minister on the fourth floor and the crime branch was asked to investigate, but the Opposition is now calling for a bigger probe.
Leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra Eknath Khadse said, "We want an impartial probe from possibly fire experts from abroad. We don't think the CBI or Crime Branch will conduct an impartial probe. We want an impartial probe by international experts."
Finally by Thursday evening, the fire was brought under control and the cooling operation will take at least 48 hours.