Two minor boys were charred to death when a fire broke out in some shops on Sevok Road in Siliguri in the wee hours of Monday. Police said the identity of the minors is yet to be known, but they found out that both were residents of Bihar.
Monohar Pakhira, a local resident, said there were five shops in a row and when he saw smoke billowing out of a window of one of the shops, he alerted everyone. Locals came out and tried to douse the flames. Later, five fire tenders arrived to extinguish the fire. The fire spread fast as the shops were packed with inflammable materials. It initially broke out in a salon in the same row of the shops and soon spread to the adjacent shops that included an eatery.
Within few minutes, the entire eatery was damaged. No one knew that two minors were sleeping inside the eatery. They used to work there and sleep inside the shop after work. After half an hour, the owner of the salon reached the place and told everyone that the minors were inside.
Fire fighters managed to douse the flames in about an hour, but when they went inside the eatery the charred bodies of the two minors were found.
Preliminary investigation revealed that a cooking gas cylinder in the eatery had exploded when the fire spread and it was gutted within minutes. The minors, who were in deep sleep, were burnt before they could have realised that the fire broke out. Locals heard the sound of the explosion and evacuated all shops, realising that the fire could spread. Meanwhile, police are trying to identify the boys so that their parents can be contacted. Fire fighters did, however, manage to restrict the fire from spreading only till the fourth shop in the row. “The incident led to a heavy loss for the shop owners but the total extent of damage is yet to be known,” said a fire department official.
Police have filed a case against the owner of the eatery for employing minor boys. The owner reportedly fled soon after he came to know about the minors’ death. Police have initiated a search for him.