Seven women were among at least eight people killed and four injured when fire engulfed a ‘candle’ factory in a village near Modinagar in Ghaziabad district on Sunday afternoon, officials said.
Ram Kishore, Station Fire Officer, Modinagar, said two fire tenders were pressed into service. “The cause of the fire is being ascertained,” he said.
Local sources alleged the factory, run by Nitin Chaudhary, made light firecrackers, particularly sparklers and party poppers used in birthday parties, and was in operation for a long time. Local media reports said explosive material could be seen at the site. “It was an illegal unit being run in a building spread over 200 square yards. When it caught fire, there was an explosion and the roof came down. Ten workers were brought out by locals and around 20 people were trapped in the factory. Many of the employees were women who were given raw material to make sparklers at home,” said a source, requesting anonymity. Locals have also alleged that Mr. Chaudhry had ties with somebody in Farrukh Nagar area of the district, known for its cracker units.
Neeraj Jadaun, SP (Rural), told The Hindu that it was not a cracker unit. “It was essentially a small unit run from home where sparklers were made. Prima facie it seemed it was an assembling unit, running with permission, where the cavities of candles were filled with a small amount of explosive material. There was no explosion as such. The building was under construction and the roof was covered with a plastic sheet, which caught fire. The cause is being investigated,” he said.
An FIR has been registered against Mr. Chaudhary and a police team has been sent to nab him, he said.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed the district officials to rush to the spot and provide immediate relief to the injured. A compensation of ₹2 lakh each has been announced for the deceased.