Four workers died inside an illegal cloth packaging unit, which was set up on the first floor of a six-storey building, in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh Monday. According to police, the fire broke out after one of the workers accidentally spilled a highly-flammable chemical used to remove stains from clothes.
According to a Delhi Fire Services (DFS) official, two of the six people working at the unit escaped by rushing out of the main gate. “The others were trapped after a heavily built man got stuck at the narrow gate, blocking their exit,” the official said.
Police and DFS officials said one of the workers who escaped told them the fire broke out due to a chemical spill. But the other worker who survived, Ajit, claimed a short circuit caused it. The DFS claimed that after the spill, the room caught fire due to high temperature and spread to a bundle of clothes and tables.
Three forensic teams were sent to the spot to ascertain what caused the blaze. One of the injured persons, Ajit (23), told The Indian Express, “I tried my best to fight the fire. There was one fire extinguisher but that did not help. I fetched water and tried to douse the blaze… I could hear them screaming.”
Police have filed a case under IPC section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and the owner of the unit, Ajay Khurana (45), has been arrested. The dead have been identified as Bhagan Prasad (55), Ram (40), Aarti (21), and Asha (40).
Police were informed about the incident at 12.31 pm.
“It took us 20 minutes to douse the fire. The entire area is congested and the house was risk-prone due to the use of flammable substances. We thought it was a fire in a residence and sent two fire tenders,” said Chief Fire Officer (DFS) Atul Garg.