A major fire broke out in a paper mill at Mubarikpur, around 7 km from Derabassi town, on Tuesday morning. Nobody was injured in the incident but several hundred tonnes of raw material spread over two acres was gutted. As many as 25 fire tenders were struggling to douse the fire on the factory premises till 5 pm. It was only around 7 pm that it was finally extinguished. Firemen said the bales of dry paper and the blowing wind caused the fire to rage for this long a period. The exact cause of the fire was not ascertained yet.
A fireman suffered minor burn injuries while he was dousing the flames.
Avtar Singh, a retired assistant divisional fire officer, attributed the uncontrollable inferno to the chemicals used in making cardboard. ‘’Ideally, the bales that caught fire should have been removed by a JCB machine. When you pour water over cardboard, it continues to burn due to the chemicals that go into making it,’’ he said, adding that it will take a while for the fire to die down completely.
The fire brigade officials said that as many as 120 fire tenders were pressed into service from as far as Patiala, Nabha, Chamkaur Sahib, Ambala and Panchkula, but it took over 12 hours to douse the flames.
The fire broke out around 3.30 am on the premises of Vishal Papertech (India) Limited, which is located around 7 km from Derabassi town near Kakrali village on the banks of Ghaggar river.
The fire broke out where the raw material was stored in an open area inside the factory’s premises. Around 80 employees of the factory were working on the night shift when the fire broke out. The raw material was stored on around 2 acres inside the factory premises.
‘’Around 1,000 tonnes of raw material was stored in the open for making paper and flex signboards. It was around 3.30 am that the fire broke out. One of my co-workers noticed the fire and alerted the security, following which we called up the fire brigade at Derabassi,” said a factory employee.
Derabassi fire officer Manjeet Singh said that after receiving the information, they sent four fire tenders but they could not control the fire, following which they called two tenders from Mohali and also called fire tenders from Panchkula and Ambala.
‘’The factory’s fire safety system also did not work due to some technical snag. We had to call the fire tenders from other districts of Punjab like Patiala and Ropar. The fire was not controlled completely till 5 pm,” Manjeet Singh said.
Replying to a question that whether the factory had the proper fire safety equipment, Manjeet Singh said that the fire safety system was working and the water was also stored but the system did not work as the transformers were damaged in fire.
Asked whether anyone had suffered injuries, Manjeet Singh said that one fireman, Jagdish Singh, who was working at Derabassi fire station, suffered minor burn injuries while he was dousing the flames.
“Jagdish Singh was injured when the wind started blowing in his direction and the flames licked him,” Jagdish Singh added.
Mubarikpur police post in-charge Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Kulwinder Singh said that he along with the police party went to the factory after receiving the information about the fire. He added that they were yet to find the exact cause of the fire.
“We shall speak to the management. Only then shall we be able to ascertain the exact reason for fire. We suspect that a short circuit could be a reason but we cannot say it clearly at this time,” he added.
Ankit Gupta, the owner of the factory, told Chandigarh Newsline that they could not assess the damage at this time. He added that the workers were not working in the area where the fire broke out.
“The workers were at some distance. The workers who were present in the factory at that time helped in controlling the fire,” he said.
Asked what was the cause of the fire, Gupta said that the preliminary investigation indicated that the fire broke out due to short circuit.