Mumbai: A massive fire Sunday night engulfed the stage at a cultural event held at Girgaum Chowpatty seafront here where a string of film celebrities and political leaders were present as part of the high-profile 'Make in India' investment meet but there were no casualties.
The fire that broke out at around 8.22pm was put under control, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters.
"No casualties reported, no one is injured," he said. All the VVIPs including Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan were safely evacuated to safer areas. The programme was later called off. Bachchan had left the stage a few minutes before the fire started.
The disaster management plan put in place ensured the safe passage of the people attending the event -- "Maharashtra Rajni", Fadnavis, who personally monitored the evacuation operation from the venue, said.
The blaze was brought under control in quick time by 14 fire engines and 10 water tankers with swift evacuation of thousands of people.
The exact cause of the fire that broke out one hour after the entertainment segment had begun was not known but state BJP spokesman Atul Shah, who was seated in the front row, said the fire apparently broke out from beneath the stage. Shiv Sena MLA Vijay Shivtare said a spark was noticed beneath the stage, which was a "wooden structure", before the fire broke out.
Shivtare said there were 500 artistes behind the stage and an estimated 50,000 people, several of them VIPs, had assembled at the venue.
Actor Vivek Oberoi, who was at one of the flanks of the stage and was getting ready to perform another event, said the flames leapt 4O to 50 feet high and there was threat of it spreading to nearby tents beause of the strong sea breeze but things were brought under control because of timely coordination between various agencies.
The blaze broke out when a lavani (dance) performance was underway.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday had stayed a Bombay High Court order and allowed the Maharashtra government to hold an event at Girgaum Chowpatty beach to kickstart the 'Make in India Week' programme, which was attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Fadnavis said a comprehensive inquiry was ordered into the fire and other 'Make in India' events will not be affected. "I must compliment the authorities for quick action, they saved lives of many people," said Ashish Shelar, BJP leader.
"I was watching a dance performance when this happened, then suddenly the stage was engulfed by smoke. I was backstage when this happened. Authorities were quick to react and evacuated people from there," actor Isha Koppikar said. Lyricist Prasoon Joshi said he was there at the event because Amitabh Bachchan was reciting his poem. "As soon as the recital got over, I left the venue and another event started and suddenly the fire broke out."