Eyewitnesses report that some of the patrons of the ‘1 Above’ pub were casually taking pictures and shooting videos of the rising flames while there were many who were immobilized by their drunken stupor. This caused a major inconvenience in their rescue and also caused a general delay in the evacuation of the whole compound. Another factor which caused a delay in the evacuation was the difficulty in finding the exit door, forcing the customers to lock themselves up in the toilets. The Kamala Mills fire caused the deaths of 14 people, including Khushbu Bansali, who was celebrating her 29th birthday with her friends, and also caused injuries to countless more.
“At around ten minutes past midnight, I got out of my office after hearing commotion. A sea of people came rushing at me. They were basically running wherever the pathway led them to,” Mahesh Sable, who works for a private security agency said. Sable said his agency provides security at the offices of news channel Times Now, which has satellite-linking equipment on the terrace adjoining ‘1 Above’ where the fire started. He said some of them even insisted on taking refuge inside the security agency’s office on the terrace. “They came up by the lift and knew nothing about the place, like the proper exit. I guided about 150-200 people as I knew the way down,” he said.
There was a stampede and someone pushed me. People were running over me even as the ceiling above me was collapsing in flames. Still don’t know how I got out alive. Some powers were definitely protecting me ?? #kamalamills
— Dr Sulbha KG Arora (@SulbhaArora) December 28, 2017
Sable and his colleague, Giri said several LPG cylinders were kept on the ground floor, and sparks and burning debris fell on them. The fire brigade swiftly removed those cylinders. “The cylinders were full and if they had caught fire, the entire Kamala Mills compound would have been devastated,” Sable said. Dr Sulbha Arora, one of the patrons, said people were falling and running over each other in the rush to get out of the building. “There was a stampede and someone pushed me. People were running over me even as the ceiling above me was collapsing in flames. I still don’t know how I got out alive,” she tweeted.