A day after eight people were charred to death in a blaze at a Bhiwandi warehouse, fire brigade officials and the police are yet to determine the cause of the fire.
The police have pointed to short circuit as one of the possible reasons, as traders in the area are notorious for stealing electricity. “The godown that caught fire did not have a legal electricity connection, but we found an electric motor in the godown. This indicates they used to steal electricity from nearby godowns,” said Sudhir Dabhade, district commissioner of police (DCP), Bhiwandi division.
Officials of the Maharashtra State Electricty Board (MSEB) have visited the spot, Dabhade said. “We have asked them to send us a report,” he added.
While fire officials said the fire could have been caused by a bonfire lit by workers to keep themselves warm, they are also not ruling out arson.
One reason for suspecting locals’ involvement, said fire officials, was that not a single resident was at the scene of the fire and they were informed of the blaze by the police about an hour after it started. “Normally, when such incidents take place, there are always some locals gathered at the spot, if for nothing then put of curiosity. In this case, not a single local resident had come. There are several warehouses nearby, yet none of the traders or owners of those warehouses approached us,” said a senior official from the Bhiwandi fire brigade, requesting anonymity.
The Narpoli police have arrested three traders who handled the warehouse that caught fire. The owner, Rajan Madvi, is absconding, said Dabhade.