A 52-year-old officer of the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) was killed and four others injured in an explosion at an electric heater factory in central Delhi’s Anand Parbat industrial area Wednesday night. According to officials, fire fighters were trying to put out a blaze at the three-storey building when a portion collapsed during the blast. While the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, Deputy Commissioner of Police (central) M S Randhawa said prima facie, it appears that a short circuit sparked off the blaze. A case under sections 436 (mischief by fire), 427 (mischief causing damaging) 336 (act of endangering life), 337 (causing hurt) and 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC has been registered at Anand Parbat police station.
Police said the fire broke out around 10 pm and 11 fire tenders were pressed into service. Ravi Shankar (52), a factory worker, told The Indian Express that he and another worker, Mantoo (28), spotted the blaze.
“The factory usually shuts at 8.30 pm. But on Wednesday, the two of us were asked to stay back as some construction work was being done on the second floor. We were standing outside the building when we saw smoke coming out from the office on the first floor,” Shankar said.
He added, “We immediately informed police and the fire department. We rushed to the first floor and tried to put out the blaze, but the fire spread quickly to the rest of the building.”
The supervisor of the factory, Dhananjay Kumar Chaubey, also reached the spot. Police said while firefighters were trying to douse the flames on the third floor, there was an explosion on the second floor. The roof crumbled, trapping five persons under the debris.
Police said the persons were identified as fire station officer Avtar Singh, firefighters Sunil and Vijender Pal, and two factory workers, Manoj Kumar and Dhananjay Kumar.
The men were pulled out from the debris and taken to Jeevan Mala Hospital, where doctors declared Vijender Pal brought dead. He had 35 per cent burns as well as multiple wounds all over his body, doctors said.
Avtar Singh and Sunil have been shifted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, while Manoj and Dhananjay are recuperating at Jeevan Mala Hospital, police said.
Police sources said factory owner and other workers have been questioned. The factory was set up in 1988 and presently employs around 40 workers, police sources said.
Meanwhile, factory workers said it took fire tenders some time to reach the spot. K K Jain, another factory owner, said: “The fire engines were delayed due to poor management of vehicle parking in the lane.”