Five employees of private online marketing firm IndiaMart were killed after a fire broke out in an office complex in Ghaziabad’s Raj Nagar Saturday. Four other employees sustained injuries while trying to escape from the building, said police.
According to police, four of the victims — identified as Puneet Mishra, Chandra Prakash Tyagi, Hemant Pratap Singh and Ritam Dwivedi — were suffocated to death. The fifth man, Piyush Goel, succumbed to head injuries he sustained while trying to escape.
Abhishek, one of the employees, said, “Piyush lost his balance while jumping from the window. He fell and hit his head on the ground. The main gate of the office had been closed. The entire staircase was filled with smoke and we could not go downstairs because of the fire. An iron gate leading to the terrace was also locked.”
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He added, “It was difficult to breathe because of the smoke. Some of us tried to open the windows. We jumped on the roof of a nearby building. Piyush was trying to do the same. We think the smoke made him dizzy, causing him to lose his balance and fall.”
Fire department officials said they received a call at 10.30 am, following which four fire tenders were dispatched to the spot. Firefighters personnel took nearly two hours to douse the flames. “Four firefighters also complained of suffocation. They were admitted to hospital and discharged after treatment,” said an official.
Superintendent of Police (City), Ghaziabad, Salmantaj Patil, said, “Initial investigation revealed the fire was caused by a short circuit on the first floor. No one noticed it as the floor was empty.”
A senior officer of the Ghaziabad fire department said, “Following the short circuit, the air conditioners also caught fire. The furniture in the office added to the blaze.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon, employees who escaped the fire went to the charred office to try and recover documents and equipment. Friends of the victims also came to collect belongings of their colleagues who died in the fire — laptop bags covered in ash, identity cards, partially-burnt visiting cards and keys among other things.
While one friend offered to drive a motorcycle that belonged to one of the victims, parked across the road, another took Piyush’s rust-coloured Eco Sport to drop it at his home. “He had bought this car just a couple of months ago,” said Abhishek.
A magisterial inquiry into the incident has been ordered by the district administration.
“An inquiry under the city magistrate will be conducted. Action will be taken against those responsible for negligence in the case,” said Ghaziabad District Magistrate Vimal Kumar Sharma.