Three workers died while another battles for life after a fire broke out at a three-story furniture factory in the Industrial Area, Phase 2, Panchkula, on Nov. 2.
The Hindustan TImes reports that authorities point to suspected fire-safety violations at the factory, while the owner blames the deaths on the delay in the fire department’s response.
The fire erupted at West Wood furniture factory just after 12 pm and took around 40 firemen over seven hours to bring it under control. Deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Mohit Handa confirmed the death of three factory workers.
They have been identified as Mamta, 45; Sonali Devi, 30; and Avdesh Kumar, 20. Another worker whose details are not known is hospitalized with severe burn injuries.
Fire officer Tarsem said they got a call regarding the blaze at 1:52pm and rushed seven fire tenders from Sector 5, Sector 20, Kalka and Barwala to the spot within minutes. Till evening, around 30 water tankers had been deployed.
“Since it was a furniture factory and the entire material was combustible, it made things more difficult. The firemen had to break the glass because of which one of the men got slightly injured as well,” said the official.
The fire started from the first floor and spread to the second floor. While other workers managed to escape, four were trapped. “We removed one dead body and evacuated three injured persons from the factory,” the fire officer said. However, by the evening, two of the three had succumbed to their burn injuries.
Though the flames had been doused by late evening, the gutted goods were still smouldering and huge plumes of smoke were billowing from the building.
Authorities say it's too early to determine the case of the fire. They are still gathering facts.
While the fire officer also refrained from sharing the cause behind fire, he said: “The preliminary visit to the spot shows that there are some fire-safety violations. A detailed investigation will be conducted.”
West Wood owner Arjun Kakkar alleges that the fire brigade was at least an hour late in reaching the spot, which led to the death of three workers.
Kakkar said the factory had all fire-fighting equipment and facilities in place, but it was not enough to control the massive blaze and a call was made to the emergency number 112 promptly.
“The fire broke out at 12:30pm, whereas the first fire tender reached the spot at least 50 minutes late. By the time they reached, the fire had spread from the first to second floor. Their system is so lackadaisical that once water in the first tender got over, they started waiting for the second one before resuming the rescue operation,” he alleged.