ASM Garage: Fire did not originate from garage; loss estimated at MVR 700,000

Rescue workers outside M. Nirufehi on November 10, 2022. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Hayyan)

The fatal fire in M. Nerufehi early Thursday did not originate from the car repair garage located on the ground floor of the building, states the garage’s operator, ASM.

The fire broke out in a car repair garage in M. Nirufehi, located near the Maaveyo Mosque, around 12:30 am. The garage is located on the ground floor, while the first-floor houses cramped living quarters for migrant workers – the only ventilation – a single window.

The quarters housed migrant workers from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.

10 people died, while one, identified as a Bangladeshi national, is in critical condition.

The owner of the garage, who spoke to Sun on condition of anonymity, said he believes the fire originated near the wooden staircase that leads up to the migrant quarters.

He said he had been in Hulhumale’ when the fire broke out, and had cut off power to the main circuit breaker as usual before he closed the garage.

He said the garage had housed empty gas cylinders and oxygen cylinders.

“There were gas cylinders near the stairwell. I suspect that [as the cause of the fire]. I believe one of the gas cylinders caught fire and spread to the staircase. A fire wouldn’t break out there [in the garage] while the place is closed and no one is there, right?” he said.

Damage from a fire at M. Nirufehi on November 10, 2022. (Sun Photo)

The warehouse had been the scene of two previous fires.

The garage’s owner said the garage had been under a different management when the first fire broke out, but admitted that the second one, which took place in May, took place due to their negligence.

He said the fire took place during timbering work on a car, and that they had enhanced safety measures following the incident, including installing fire extinguishers.

He said that the garaged burned down with two pickups.

The loss from the fire, with the vehicles and the equipment in the garage, is estimated to be MVR 700,000, he said.

According to authorities, the migrant quarters had housed at least 38 people.

28 people were evacuated out of the building, while nine people were initially reported missing.

Seven of them were found dead, while two were taken to Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) with severe burns. One of them died at the hospital, while the second, identified as a Bangladeshi national, is in critical condition.

Firefighters later recovered two more bodies from the building, raising the death toll 10.

Speaking to press, Colonel Ibrahim Rasheed, Commandant, MNDF Fire and Rescue Service said the dead bodies recovered from the scene were severely burnt, making it difficult to identify them or even determine their sex.