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Home / Cities / Another factory blaze in Ludhiana leaves one dead

Another factory blaze in Ludhiana leaves one dead

‘NO LESSONS LEARNT’ Factory’s gates got blocked, alternative exit was locked from outside, no proper safety arrangements inside

cities Updated: Feb 14, 2020 22:55 IST
Harsimran Singh Batra
Harsimran Singh Batra
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
The rubble after the fire at the plastic granule factory in Jugiana village on Friday.
The rubble after the fire at the plastic granule factory in Jugiana village on Friday.(HT PHOTO)

 A 22-year-old labourer was charred to death while another suffered severe burn injuries after a fire broke out at a plastic granules factory, Garg plastic, in Jugiana village on Thursday night.

The deceased has been identified as Neeraj Chaudhary, a native of Bihar. The injured Sonu, 25, has been admitted to a private hospital.

Shockingly, neither the factory workers nor the fire brigade knew that Neeraj had been trapped in the unit till the fire brigade revisited the site on Friday morning.

As per the information, the fire broke out around 10:30pm on Thursday.

The labourers, who were working on the night shift, said that both labourers, Neeraj and Sonu, were sleeping on the first floor of the unit at the time. They suspect that Neeraj may have been drunk and got confused due to which he couldn’t escape to safety. They added that Sonu got electrocuted as the building carried high-voltage current after the fire broke out.

FIRE STATION GOT ALERT AFTER AN HOUR

Fire station officer (FSO) Shristi Nath said they received an alert around 11:30 pm and rushed six fire tenders to the spot. “The labourers were also not aware that one of their colleagues was stuck in the building. The entire operation lasted for over four hours as we were able to control the blaze only around 4 am,” said Nath.

At around 8 am they had received an alert that the fire has again ignited at the unit. When they reached the spot, the firefighters spotted the body of Neeraj, said the FSO.

The firefighters said there were no proper safety arrangements in the factory except for a few fire extinguishers. It is pertinent to mention that the fire audit of the city has been pending since 2017.

CLOSE SHAVE FOR SEVEN

As per information, there were nine persons, including Sonu’s pregnant wife and a toddler son, in the factory at the time of the incident. The fire is suspected to have broken out following a short-circuit. Due to the presence of plastic, the factory was engulfed in flames within a matter of minutes.

As the exit gate was locked from outside, one labourer had to jump to the adjoining factory’s roof from the first floor and then open the gate from outside.

CASE AGAINST FACTORY OWNER

Sahnewal station house officer (SHO) Inderjit Singh said the factory owner, Raj Kumar has been booked under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code, on a complaint by Rahul Chaudhary, a labourer and a close associate of deceased Neeraj.

The SHO said the body’s post-mortem will be conducted after his family reaches the city and gives their consent. Meanwhile, police have launched a manhunt for the accused factory owner.

PAST INCIDENTS

December 22, 2019 - One died of asphyxiation after a major fire broke out at a textile unit- cum-godown, Rosy Spinning Mills Private Limited in Phase 5, of Focal point.

December 20, 2019: Three persons had a narrow escape after a fire broke out at a shop constructed on a private plot at Tajpur Road’s Guru Arjun Dev Nagar.

November 30, 2019: A major fire broke out at a three-storey hosiery trading unit on Lal Masjid road in Wait Ganj area

August 7, 2019: Seven workers had a narrow escape after a major fire broke out at a hosiery unit — Trimurti Knitting Works — in Pritampura, Sardar Nagar.

July 26, 2019: One died and 13 sustained injuries after an explosion took place at a steel unit in Bholapur (Jhabewal) village on Chandigarh road.

July 8, 2019: Five persons were injured after a fire broke out at a hosiery unit in Madhopuri.

June 22, 2019: A two-storey building in Focal Point was gutted. Two firemen and a few locals suffered minor injuries in the incident.

June 17, 2019: A major fire broke out at a yarn manufacturing unit in Kanganwal.

June 14, 2019: Fire incident reported in three hosiery units in Shivpuri.

June 6, 2019: A part of a knitwear factory collapsed following a fire in Seera village

June 1, 2019: Major fire broke out at the godown of a cable company in Gill village.

LIFE LOST AS FIRE BRIGADE LACKED MODERN EQUIPMENT

Had the fire brigade been equipped with life detectors and search cameras, they could have spotted Neeraj, 22, in time and evacuated him to safety.

Crying for basic infrastructure since long, the fire brigade officials who went to douse the flames at the plastic granule factory in Kanganwal area on Thursday night, overlooked the presence of a labourer whose badly burnt body was recovered over eight hours after the fire first broke.

The body was found inside when the fire brigade, which finished operations around 4 am, received an alert around 8 am that the fire had started again.

The labourers also did not apprise the firefighters about Neeraj and claimed they were also not aware that he was inside.

Recalling the fateful night, Sandeep, another labourer, said that soon after they found out about the blaze, they also ran to save their lives.

Fire station officer (FSO) Shristi Nath said no one apprised the fire brigade about the presence of labourer inside the factory. “The firefighters too could not spot the body due to the smoke and the perished material inside the factory. It was only when the fire brigade reached the spot on Friday morning that they had spotted the body which was badly burnt,” said Nath. The department is working to upgrade the equipment, he added.

MC mulling upgrade of fire brigade under smart city project

Hanging fire for a long time, the project to upgrade fire brigade is expected to see the light of the day under smart city mission. After a plastic factory collapsed near Suffiyan chowk in November 2017, following a blaze, in which 16 persons lost their lives, including nine firefighters, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and the then local bodies minister Novjot Singh Sidhu had announced that the fire brigade would be upgraded. However, no change has been witnessed on the ground till now. The equipment which would be purchased under the ₹28 crore project, include victim location camera with life detectors, quick response vehicle, portable energy lighting system, thermal imaging camera, hydraulic cutters, portable fire pump, mobile sets and walkie-talkie.