Mohali factory blaze exposes chinks
Panic gripped the area as 10 blasts were heard one after the other and plastic containers were flung high in the air. Flames and smoke engulfed the area within minutes.Updated: Mar 15, 2019 23:03 IST
A godown used for storing thinner and chemicals went up in flames at the Industrial Area, Phase 7, once again bringing to the fore lack of fire preparedness in factories in Mohali district.
Panic gripped the area as 10 blasts were heard one after the other and plastic containers were flung high in the air. Flames and smoke engulfed the area within minutes.
The godown belonged to Chem Tech Industries, involved in manufacturing paints and owned by brothers Satpal Garg and Kishan Garg. While chemicals were stored in the godown on plot number C142, packing was done on plot number D127, opposite the godown.
Satpal and four workers were present on the premises when a minor spark caused by a chemical reaction while filling a container led to the fire around 3pm. The worker who was filling the container jumped over the closed gate to save his life.
“I was having lunch when one of the employees rushed to inform me that fire had broken out. By the time we rushed out, flames had engulfed the entire godown,” said Satpal.
The fire brigade was informed around 3:45pm and reached the spot within 10 minutes.
It took five fire tenders from Mohali — that made 20 rounds to refill water — to bring the blaze under control around 6pm. Two fire tenders from Chandigarh were also pressed into service around 5pm. No injury was reported.
The factory owner failed to reveal why there was a delay in making the emergency call.
In grave violations to fire-safety norms, the godown on the 4 kanal plot had tonnes of liters of chemical. According to fire officials, the factory did not posses a valid no-objection certificate (NOC) and had poor fire-fighting equipment both in the godown and the packing unit opposite it.
“The factory was ill-equipped to deal with the fire. It had firefighting equipment, but it was non-functional,” said Jaideep Sehgal, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Mohali, who reached the spot at 4:45pm.
“Highly inflammable thinner and chemicals were stored in the basement. The owners will have to give an explanation,” said Karma Chand Sood, fire officer, Mohali. “There were small fire extinguishers but not enough to control the blaze. The staff did not know how to use them.”
Meanwhile, police have registered a daily diary report. “We have lodged a DDR and further action will be taken after inquiry,” said Baljinder Singh, in charge of the police post at Industrial Area, Phase 8.
“There is a boiler on the rear of the factory and if that bursts the units in the vicinity would be gutted. As a precaution, we have emptied all the units in the vicinity,” said Rajeev Gupta, whose factory is adjacent to the godown.
A police control room vehicle has also been stationed outside the unit.