Eight people were charred to death in a major fire that broke out in a timber godown at Bhiwandi early Saturday morning. Three other workers of the godown suffered burn injuries.
According to Fire Brigade officials, the 100×50 metre godown was used to build wooden crates and housed workers living inside. Officials said those burnt alive were workers, believed to be in their early twenties, who were residing inside the godown. “The godown was at Madvi compound, Dapota road, near Bhiwandi,” said D N Salvi, chief fire officer, Bhiwandi.
A source at the the Indira Gandhi Memorial (IGM) Hospital, where eight bodies were taken for post-mortem examination, said, “The bodies were charred beyond recognition. We cannot even conduct post-mortem examination. They will now be sent for DNA analysis.”
Sudhir Dabhade, Deputy Commissioner of Police for Thane-Bhiwandi, said they had arrested three men who ran the godown and have been identified as Manwar Ali Khan, Imitiyag Ahmed and Shaukat Ali Ansari. They have been booked on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under section 427 of the IPC for negligence. The three would be produced before the court on Sunday.
“A fourth person, who had given the godown on rent to these three, has also been booked for negligence,” Dabhade said.
Fire Brigade sources said they received a call around 2.57 am and managed to put out the fire by 7 am, after four hours, using three fire engines and water from a nearby well. Cooling operations were under way till 11.30 am.
The three injured were first rushed to IGM Hospital in Bhiwandi, which has no burns ward. They were later shifted to the Thane Civil Hospital. Among the three, Vinod Yadav (21) sustained maximum burns. “He has 43 per cent burns and will require advanced care. There are burn injuries all over his body,” a doctor from IGM Hospital said. The two others, Bahadur Chauhan (18) and Girish Chauhan (18), suffered from 23 and 10 per cent burns, respectively.
According to hospital sources, all three are stable.
Eyewitnesses said they were sleeping when they suddenly heard screams from the nearby godown. “Within seconds, there were huge flames leaping out. We rushed to the spot, but by the time we could start any rescue efforts, a few people had already been burnt to death. Their bodies were charred beyond recognition,” said Nihal Yadav, a worker at a nearby shop, who sleeps in the premises of the shop.