Fire at packaging factory kills three

Peeyush Khandelwal

Ghaziabad, Nov. 5 -- A blaze at a Ghaziabad factory on Saturday killed three youths whose charred bodies were found in the building's first floor a day later. The dead, identified by police as Pradeep Saini, Pradeep Kumar and Kishan Pal, had gone missing soon after the blaze swept through the flexible packaging- and pouch-making unit. All three are said to have been aged between 25 and 28 years.

Local fire safety officer Ajay Sharma said the bodies of the trio had been charred beyond recognition, though their relatives managed to recognise them. "Their bodies were burnt beyond recognition but have been identified by their relatives. One of the persons was identified by his photograph in his wallet. Two other bodies were identified from their features and body structure." The police have asked for DNA testing of the bodies.

At least three others were hurt in the fire. They have been admitted to a private hospital in Ghaziabad.

The blaze at the Poysha Packaging Private Ltd factory on National Highway 58 took 14 fire tenders, which were called in from Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gautam Budh Nagar, Ordinance Factory Murad Nagar and Hindon air force base, more than 24 hours to be controlled. More than 150 rescue professionals from the police, fire department and voluntary organisations were involved in the operation.

The police and fire department officials said the fire began on the side of the building that is used to stock ethyl acetate and ink which is used as raw-material.

"There was a spark and the ethyl acetate and ink containers caught fire. Soon, the fire spread to the basement and three floors of the building, completely engulfing it," Sharma said. The police have ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Other reports suggested that the fire started while ethyl acetate containers were being unloaded. "Some workers were unloading drums containing ethyl acetate even as the driver of the vehicle had left the ignition on. A spark caused a blast leading to the blaze," district police chief SS Yadav said.

A rescue worker, Mahesh Kumar, said: "There were blasts in the chemical drums, fridge and the AC units. We could not reach the basement because of the heat emanating from there."

The firm's managing director Sandeep Kansal described the incident as "very tragic". "We have handed over cheques of R11 lakh each to the victim families. It seems that incident was caused by a short circuit."

Wake-up call in the city of high-rises

The fire at the packaging plant is a wake-up call for police and the fire department in Ghaziabad, an industrial and housing hub.

Around 1,800 types of industrial units are located in the Uttar Pradesh district that is also emerging as a housing hub.

Saturday's fire that killed three persons was doused with the help of fire tenders brought in from neighbouring districts and timely succour from Ordinance Factory at Murad Nagar and the air force base at Hindon.

The officials said there was a need for a foam tender. The foam tender comes handy in cases of electrical and industrial fires.

The city also needs a hydraulic platform that can be using to reach high-rises in case of fires. Ghaziabad is destined is set for a major housing boom and the authorities are giving permission for high-rises with 20-22 storeys. - HTC, Ghaziabad

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.