Maharashtra godown fire kills eight workers

Eight migrant workers died of burns and suffocation when three makeshift godowns-cum-manufacturing units were gutted in a major fire at Mankoli in the powerloom town of Bhiwandi, nearly 60 km from downtown Mumbai.

The fire started in the units—two of which were engaged in making small wooden platforms for transporting refrigerators and another a small plastic segregation unit—around 2:30 am.

Half a dozen fire-tenders and water tankers from the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation (BNMC) were rushed to the spot, but the fire was brought under control only at 8 am. The cooling operations continued till noon. By then, the entire place was gutted.

“It was a difficult fire to control. There was a lot of inflammable wooden planks and plastic,” said BNMC Chief Fire Officer D N Salvi.

“We have registered a case and investigations are in progress,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Sudhir Dhabade. They said while the cause of fire was yet to be ascertained. All possibilities, like whether the flames spread because of a fire to fight cold, or there were beedis or cigarettes, are being looked at.

The victims were rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, where eight of them were pronounced dead on arrival. Three of the others are still hospitalised, and said to be battling for life. “The mercury has dipped over the last few days, and there is cold and fog. But the increase in temperature could easily be felt after the fire,” said Raju, who works in a neighbouring unit. Police sources said the owner of the land—Madvi Compound—who also owns two godowns, has let out the open space where these people were running their business.

“The victims are mainly from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Nepal,” said the sources.

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