Woman charred to death as fire guts chemical godown

Woman charred to death as fire guts chemical godown

Woman charred to death as fire guts chemical godown
A 28-year-old woman, who had locked herself in the storeroom of a chemical godown to escape from a major fire, was charred to death as the blaze spread all around.

Three men were injured too, but they fled before the fire tenders arrived.  The incident occurred at Lakshmi Lac Pvt Ltd at Seegehalli gate, Tavarekere, West  Bengaluru, around Thursday midnight.  The fire is believed to have started around 11.30 pm after workers cleaned up the godown, dumped the waste in a mound outside and set it on fire. But chemical droplets spread all around. Within no time, the fire engulfed the entire godown.

The fire control room received a call around 11.45 pm. Eight fire tenders were rushed to the spot. But dousing the flames in a godown stacked with 60 barrels of chemical substances such as paint thinner, acid and toilet cleaner proved daunting for firemen.

As the fire started, Gayathri, who had started working at the godown just a fortnight ago, ran into a room that stored scrap materials and locked herself in.

“It took more than six hours to douse the blaze as the chemicals were strong. Each time we doused the blaze, it started again. We had to use foam to put out the flames. But vapourisation triggered minor fire in several places in the godown,” a senior fire officer, who was present on the spot, said.

Fire fighters then realised that a woman was stuck inside but they could not venture in as the flames were overbearing. “It was only after 3 pm that our men could get in. They went to the ground floors but didn’t find anyone. Then they found a room bolted from inside. They thrust it open and found burnt scrap materials. When they removed the materials, the woman was lying there, charred to death,” the officer said.

The blaze also damaged water pipes of neighbouring houses. The incident has confounded the jurisdictional Tavare-kere police. The godown was run by two men named Khaniram and Kailash; both are absconding. The duo employed some people for filling acid, paint thinner and other chemical substances into bottles and supplying them to retail stores. But no barrel found in the godown had any label or any kind of description.

The police said they were investigating the kind of chemicals stored in the godown and whether the owners had obtained the licence to store the dangerous substances. Fire officials are carrying out their own investigation and will submit a report to their top brass.

Gayathri, a resident of Shanthi Lal Mutha Layout near Seegehalli gate, had worked in the housekeeping department of a wedding hall before joining the godown, the police said.
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