An early morning fire at Teerath Wear Knitfab, a hosiery and garment manufacturing unit running illegally in residential area of Shivpuri, claimed three lives of embroidery workers on Monday. The fire broke out due to a short circuit.
Not only the building housed an illegal commercial venture, but the owner also failed to procure a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the fire department.
The three victims — identified as Sunder Lal, 40; Raju, 30; and Suraj, 35 — worked as embroidery workers at the factory and got stuck in the building as the owner, Surinder Singh, a resident of Civil Lines, locked gates which restricted their movement as the fire broke out.Lal was from Uttar Pradesh while Raju and Suraj were from Shivpuri and Ghumar Mandi respectively.
The fire, as per eyewitnesses, broke out around 7.15 am after which the fire department and police were informed. However, not only the front gate but the terrace gate was also locked by the owners and three workers in the factory died on the spot due to asphyxiation.
Talking to Newsline, Salem Tabri SHO Maninder Bedi confirmed that the factory was running illegally in a residential area. He added that the “owner suspected workers of stealing and thus locked the gates”.
“Surinder Singh suspected that workers will sell raw material from his factory outside and thus to restrict their movement, he locked front and terrace gates. The fire broke out and workers tried to escape but there was no route. We have arrested the owner under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and role of his son Gagandeep Singh is also being investigated,” he said.
Bodies of the three victims were found lying on the stairs. “Fire started from ground floor and they went upstairs but the door was locked on terrace. They collapsed due to suffocation on the stairs,” said Bedi.
Fire officers’ 6 of 9 posts lie vacant
The fire department has no staff to conduct field visits as six out of nine posts of fire officers lie vacant. “Four posts of fire station officers and two of sub-fire officers are vacant. At present, an assistant divisional fire officer and two sub-officers are working and it is not possible to conduct surprise checks in industries with severe staff crunch,” said a source from the fire office.
Assistant divisional fire officer Bhupinder Singh said, “Five fire tenders were sent and it took 45 minutes to douse the fire. The owner had no fire safety equipment and NoC.”
Role of MC to be investigated
SHO Bedi said that a report would be sent to the industries department. “We are also investigating the role of the Municipal Corporation as the factory was running in the residential area. MC will be questioned during investigation.”