4 die in Mangolpuri shoe factory fire

Four persons died and one suffered 20 per cent burns when a fire broke out in a shoe factory in Mangolpuri, Outer Delhi, early morning on Tuesday. A 13-year-old boy, Salman, was among the dead, police said. Others were identified as Chandrashekhar (20), Kuldeep (22) and Rajkumar (25).

Police suspect a short-circuit in the power meter triggered the blaze. Officers said the factory did not have a licence. Police and the Fire department were informed about the blaze around 4 am. Four fire tenders were dispatched to the spot.

The shoe factory, police said, was constructed about seven months ago. The landlord, Jai Narayan, rented the ground floor of the building to two persons Amar Singh and Rajpal alias Vicky for Rs 9,000 a month to run the factory. The building had three more floors.

Police said 20 workers, including 10 women, were employed at the factory.

According to police, the four persons died in their sleep due to asphyxia. "At 1 am, the five victims (including one who was injured) fell asleep. Prima facie, it seems that the electricity meter had a lose wire dangling from it, which was sparking. There was a shoe box kept below the meter that caught fire. The fire spread since the entire 70 square yard factory had rexine stored there. Rexine is combustible," a police officer said.

Police said the owner of the factory had locked the rear door from outside. "The front door had a lot of material kept in front of it, making it difficult for those trapped to run out. It is possible that Mithilesh, who survived the fire, hid in the toilet. The windows had iron grilles, which could not be broken," the officer said.

Mithilesh is recovering at Safdarjung Hospital. His statement is yet to be recorded, police said.

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