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Factory fire in Karol Bagh claims 4, owner held

Factory fire in Karol Bagh claims 4, owner held

New Delhi: Four workers died inside a cloth factory after it caught with fire in central Delhi's Karol Bagh area on Monday. According to the fire department officials, the factory had only one escape route, which resulted in one worker being charred to death while the rest died of suffocation.

Police said they have arrested the owner of the illegal factory Ajay Khurana, after they found negligence on his part. The deceased have been identified as Bhigan Prasad (55), RM Naresh (40), Aarti (20) and Asha (40), while 23-year-old Ajeet received injured, cops said.

According to the Delhi Fire Services (DFS), the fire broke out at 12.23 pm at the factory, located on the first floor of a five-storey building in Karol Bagh's Beadonpura area. It was doused off at 12.50 pm by firefighters.

Residents in the area said some of the deceased had been working for several years at the factory.

A firefighter who entered the house-cum-factory told Millennium Post it was 15 ft x 12 ft and had only two rooms. "The fire broke out in one room where three steam pressing tables were kept near the exit. We found a solvent used for cleaning clothes, which is put inside a gun-like object for spraying. We suspect the solvent fell on to the table and started the fire. We don't know how it all started," said the officer.

He added that it is suspected that one of the victims, whose body was found near the exit, lost consciousness and charred by the fire.The other victims were behind him and were unable to escape as the fire broke out in front of the only exit in the room.

"When the fire was extinguished, we found the first casualty who was completely charred. And then, in the back side of the room, three other bodies were lying on each other and their clothes had been burnt due to excessive heat and also smoke was there," the officer said.

He added the door also could not be opened as several clothes were stacked behind it.

"The other reason which we suspect is that one of the deceased had fallen in front of the main gate, which made it tough for the others to escape," added the officer.

Meanwhile, Chief Fire Officer, DFS, Atul Garg told Millennium Post that they had no idea about the existence of the illegal factory prior to Friday's fire and it had no fire NOC.

Firefighters also searched the other floors of the building to check if someone was trapped.

For DFS, 2018 so far has been a busy year, as data accessed by Millennium Post till October claimed that it received 19,083 calls of different distresses, like fire, house collapsed, sewer deaths and road accidents.

Dreams of four families reduced to ashes

New Delhi: Fifty five-year-old Bhigan Prasad would have been visiting Deoria in December to fix his daughter's marriage, if only it had not been a deadly fire that broke out in the factory where he worked and charred both his body and his dreams.

Another father Indrapal, however, had a different reason for heartbreak. After seeing the body of his daughter Aarti, another victim of the factory fire, at the hospital, Indrapal broke down and was seen weeping inconsolably.

Several relatives of the four deceased factory workers were seen crying uncontrollably at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where the victims' bodies were brought after the fire.

Umesh, a relative of Bighan Prasad, told Millennium Post that on December 2, Bighan was going to Deoria in Uttar Pradesh to arrange his daughter's marriage.

"All was fixed, it was only the date of the marriage left to be decided. But now, he is no more. What can I say," said Umesh.

The kin of the other deceased were also seen crying, including the family members of Asha, who's mother broke down in tears after seeing her daughter's lifeless body.

Harish, the relative of deceased worker Ram Naresh, said all his children are still studying.

Meanwhile, Aarti's father Indrapal stated that on Sunday, she had not visited their house in Vijay Vihar area, because of which he came to Karol Bagh on Monday to check her. Little could he have expected that the news he would hear about his daughter would be of her death.

"Someone called me and informed me about the incident. I rushed to the hospital only to know about my daughter's death," said the crestfallen Indrapal.

He further claimed that Aarti used to live with him in Karol Bagh area, but recently she had told him that the factory where she was working had given her an accommodation where she would be staying.

"What could I have said to her? She used to send money to home. Whatever she earned, I lost everything," said the father, as tears flowed down his eyes. For many family members of the deceased workers, the fire not only took away their loved ones but also the bread of their families.

'I tried to help, but the fire was uncontrollable'

New Delhi: Ajeet, 23, is one of the survivors of Friday's factory fire in Karol Bagh. At Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, he sits on a stretcher, with injuries on his hand and face wrapped tightly in bandage.

With tears in his eyes, he told Millennium Post that he tried to control the fire, but once it grew out of control, he and his four co-workers became helpless onlookers.

According to residents of Beadonpura area, where the factory is located, the locality is so tightly encroached that the firefighters had to enter through an adjacent building so that they could fire their water canons to douse the fire inside the factory.

Ajeet claimed that packing of clothes was going on at the time of the incident.

"I and the others rushed to the main gate but we were not able to escape," said Ajeet.

He added that a matter of five minutes, the fire spread all over the factory and became uncontrollable.

"I tried my best, but after some time I did not know what happened in the house," said the survivor, adding that the fire started from one of the pressing tables in one of the rooms.

"Asha and Aarti were involved in packing, whereas the other two wer busy pressing the clothes," Ajeet further said.

Located close to the factory is another similar unit, where Omprakash was working.

Speaking to this newspaper, he said that he first heard cries for help from the nearby building, causing him and his co-workers to come running out.

They were shocked to see that smoke had enveloped the factory and immediately called for help.

According to other residents, the market was fortunately closed, because of which fire tenders were able to easily reach near the five-storey building which houses the factory.

However, they added that the area where the incident took place is very congested as the buildings stand wall to wall with each other. This is why the water canons of the fire tenders had to be brought from a nearby house and then shot at the factory, the residents added.

One resident claimed that during the operation, fire fighters took away all the gas cylinders from his house, as well as that of his neighbours.

"Due to the incident, my wife lost consciousness because of high blood pressure," said another resident.

Abhay Singh

Abhay Singh

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