Five labourers were killed when a fire broke out early on Thursday at a saree godown in Uruli Devachi, about 20 km from Pune city, authorities said.
The incident occurred a little after 4 a. m., said fire brigade officials, who ascribed the likely cause of the blaze to a short circuit. Four of the deceased hailed from Rajasthan, while one was from Maharashtra’s Latur district said the police.
All of them were in their 20s. They have been identified as Rakesh Riyad (22), Rakesh Meghwal, Dharmaram Vadiyasar and Suraj Sharma (all aged 25) belonging to Rajasthan, and Dheeraj Chandak (aged 23) whose native town was in Latur.
“The labourers died due to asphyxiation within minutes of the blaze. As they had no place else to live, they used to sleep inside the 6,000-sq. ft. godown itself, which in turn used to be locked from the outside by the owners to preclude any thefts. When we retrieved their bodies, some of them had been burnt as well,” said a police official, adding that further investigations were on.
Fire brigade officials said that five fire tenders were rushed to the spot combat the conflagration.
“We received a call at the control room at around 4.15 a. m. following which five fire tenders were immediately rushed to the spot. In addition, eight-ten water tankers, too, were rushed to the spot where they reached a little after 4:30 a.m. There were billows of smoke emanating from the godown shutter. The shop was locked from the outside,” said a fire brigade official, remarking that the intensity of the inferno was such that it could be brought under control only after more than four hours of firefighting.
He said that the rescue team had to break into the godown using the windows in the rear, but could not save the labourers who had died by then.
In a similarly tragic incident in late December 2016, six labourers had been charred to death at the ‘Bakes n Cakes’ bakery situated in the Pune’s upmarket Kondhwa area.
In that case as well, the bakery where the labourers had been sleeping was locked from the outside as a result of which the employees could not rush out when the fire broke out.