The building that housed the sales office of Indiamart and got engulfed in fire on Saturday had only one fire extinguisher, which was kept inside the common toilet on the first floor, according to sources. Five Indiamart employees died in the incident, including one who jumped from second floor to save himself from the fire.
The son of the building owner, who operates a property consultancy office on the first floor of the building, said that the victims could not move down to the first floor as there was huge flames and thick smoke all around. The fire on Saturday started on the first floor office and was carried upwards, he said.
“The entire building had only one fire extinguisher, which was kept in the common toilet on the first floor. Those stuck in the fire could not access it as the fire started from the first floor. They could not move to the roof either. The door to the roof was just latched and not locked. It was locked 6-7 months back but I got the lock removed last month while getting the water tank cleaned, as I had lost the keys,” Rajnish Sharma, son of the building owner, said.
He also denied claims by Ghaziabad development authority (GDA) that building by-laws and land use norms were being violated.
“The building is in my father’s name and there was no challan issued by the GDA. We have a commercial registry, we are paying commercial house tax and also have a commercial electricity 10KW load. For the land use change, we also have a receipt of `5 lakh paid to the development authority in 1998. This receipt was given to us by the previous owner,” Sharma said.
Ravindra Godbole, GDA secretary and officiating vice-chairman, on Saturday said that the building owner was challaned once and was operating against the residential land use.
Meanwhile, the family of one of the victims, Ritam Dwivedi, said they will approach Ghaziabad officials and lodge a complaint into the incident.
“Ritam was to be married in November but all is lost . There were no fire safety arrangements, which could have saved lives, in the building. We will approach officials with a complaint. We are still busy with the post-mortem and cremation formalities,” Vinay Dwivedi, Ritam’s uncle, said.
On Saturday, the district magistrate Vimal Kumar Sharma had ordered the city magistrate to conduct a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Meanwhile, police officials said they did not receive any complaint into the fire incident.
“The post-mortem reports indicate that the victims died of suffocation and asphyxia, which was a result of thick smoke and emission of gases during the incident,” Ashok Shishodia, station house officer at Kavi Nagar police station, said.