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Chandigarh: Blaze at incense sticks factory lands 28 in hospital

All safe: Rear wall broken to rescue workers at Industrial Area factory; 20 fall unconscious due to asphyxiation

punjab Updated: Oct 07, 2017 12:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Blaze at incense sticks factory,Devdarshan Dhoop,chandigarh
Firemen trying to douse flames at the Devdarshan Dhoop factory in the Industrial Area, Phase 2, Chandigarh on Friday. (Sikander Singh/HT)

Twenty-eight workers, mostly women, had to be hospitalised after fire broke out at a factory producing incense sticks in the Industrial Area, Phase 2, here on Friday noon.

Sources said a spark caused due to electrical works being carried out on the premises of Devdarshan Dhoop factory at Plot No. 345 led to a minor blast in two chemical containers lying there. Sandalwood sawdust, used in preparation of incense sticks and other ceremonial items, caught fire following the blast and soon the blaze spread further. “We saw plumes of smoke coming out of the factory around noon,” said Radha Devi, who works in an adjacent industrial unit.

At least 20 workers fell unconscious due to asphyxiation.

As many as 28 workers were trapped inside as there was no emergency exit. As fire engulfed the premises, the area was filled with their cries for help, said a witness. “The rear wall had to be broken to rescue the trapped workers,” said Mukesh, a passerby who helped rescue about a dozen workers. “They could hardly speak and were gasping for air,” said another rescue worker.

At least 20 workers fell unconscious due to asphyxiation, said Sector-31 station house officer Jaswinder Kaur. All workers — 24 women and four men — were rushed to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, where their condition is stated to be stable. None of them suffered any burn injuries.

“Two workers had to be provided extra oxygen,” said GMCH director-principal Dr AK Janmeja. He said most of them will be discharged by night.

7 tenders reach spot

Seven fire tenders were rushed to the spot. Besides the civil defence disaster team, UT superintendent of police (SSP) Nilambari Vijay Jagdale too reached there. As the blaze could not be brought under control till as late as 6pm, a JCB machine was called to break the front wall, following which fireman brought out sacks of sandalwood sawdust and other chemicals.

Uma Shankar Gupta, chief fire officer of the Chandigarh municipal corporation, said the fire spread due to incense and desi ghee lying in the factory.

Inquiry ordered

Gupta said he has sought a report from the fire officer. If any violation is found, the factory will be sealed. The SSP, too, has ordered a thorough investigation. Gupta has also issued a show-cause notice to sub fire officer Baljinder Singh for not informing him about the incident. The officer has been given three days to reply.

Rs 40-lakh loss expected

Devdarhsan Dhoop owner PK Jain put the losses at Rs 40 lakh. “Most of the machinery and equipment has been gutted,” he said. The factory was operating from a rented accommodation. It has been manufacturing incense sticks and other items used in religious ceremonies for the past two decades.

First Published: Oct 07, 2017 12:40 IST