A labourer was charred to death while five others were asphyxiated early on Monday as fire engulfed a factory near Kadabagere Cross, Magadi Road, on the outskirts of the City.
The labourers were working at S R Seating Systems through Sunday night before going to bed in the factory.
The fire department was alerted around 5:30 am by Balaram, owner of a neighbouring factory. “My workers alerted me around 5 am and said the unit opposite my factory had caught fire. I rushed to the spot and called the fire force,” he said. Eleven fire tenders were pressed into action. The flames were extinguished after a four-hour operation around 9:50 am.
Lakshman, purchase manager at S R Seating Systems, identified the deceased as Sartaj (28), Noor Hussein (28), Shoaib (22), Gazi (20), Usman (18) and Talib (24). Barring Sartaj, all victims were contract workers from Bijjinore in Uttar Pradesh. Samsuddin, brother of Sartaj, told Deccan Herald that Sartaj stayed in the factory while his family lived at Sultan Palya.
Assistant Fire Officer S Shankaraiah recounted that intense smoke was billowing out from the factory. “The shutter of the factory was locked from outside which made us assume that there was nobody inside,” he said. Though the fire personnel broke the lock, they could not enter the factory since the shutter had expanded due to the heat. An excavator had to be brought to break the shutter.
Ravishankar, regional fire officer (west), told Deccan Herald: “We were shocked to discover a body as soon as we entered the factory. A severely burnt body of a youth was found just next to the shutter. Thereafter, we combed the entire area thoroughly.
Subsequently, we discovered five more bodies. They were asphyxiated. Only the man whose body was found near the shutter had tried to flee, but was trapped. The others did not even sustain any major burns.”
Meanwhile, Lakshman, another employee of S R Seating Systems, said there were seven men working in the factory and all of them had slept there overnight. A man identified as Nadeem Khan (23) is missing
According to police, Khan went out for tea on Monday morning. He had probably locked the factory from outside since his colleagues were sleeping and a large quantity of materials were stocked inside. The police suspect that Khan, on seeing the fire, might have fled the scene fearing action.
Chandrashekhar, DIG, Fire & Emergency Services, told Deccan Herald that while the exact cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained, it could have been triggered by a short circuit.