On Wednesday afternoon, a three-storey-building, which serves as the office of Excel Greentech Private Limited in Noida Sector 11’s F block, was engulfed in flames and thick black smoke. While at least 19 people managed to save themselves, six charred bodies were found on the third floor following a five-hour long rescue operation.
Around 1.30 pm on Wednesday, 20-year-old Akash Varshney, who worked in the basement of the office which deals with LED lights, saw thick black smoke emanating from the first floor. Within seconds, when Varshney and nine others were trying to flee from the building, a portion of the ceiling collapsed. While seven workers managed to climb down from the building with the help of ropes, one person jumped from the building.
“One, Pawan Kumar, suffered a back injury due to the fall. He has a fracture and is undergoing treatment at a private hospital. At least four others also used a rope or jumped from the building. None of them are critical. At least 15 fire department vehicles were used,” said Vinay Singh, SHO, Noida Sector 24 police station. While most people managed to escape, six got trapped. “These six people seem to have been trapped on the third floor. It seems that they tried to flee from the staircase but the terrace door was locked, while the second floor was covered in flames. One of them was a woman. The reason behind the fire has not yet been ascertained. It requires an inquiry,” said Dharmendra Singh, SSP, Gautam Buddha Nagar. The executive director of the company and the account executive are suspected to be among the deceased.
“Three deceased have been identified by their families — Indra Bhan (38-year-old marketing executive), Vivek Kochhar (35-year-old account executive) and 20-year old Jasmeet Kaur. The post-mortem examination will be carried out tonight and DNA testing will be done to identify all the bodies,” said Gaurav Grover, Circle Officer (1st Noida). According to office employees, the basement of the building was used for assembling packages, the first and second floors were used as storage space, while the third floor served as the office. “We had moved to Noida around six months ago. The office was in Ghaziabad earlier. The first and second floor had packaging material and cartons of LED lights. The fire could have spread easily due to this,” Varshney said.
Around 8.30 pm, two hours after the bodies were rushed to the district hospital, fire department officials and police personnel maintained that the rescue operation was still underway. “The temperature of the basement was over 200 degrees celsius around 4.30 pm. The basement is now filled with water. The operation has been halted for a couple of hours and it will be resumed in the morning,” said Grover.