Storage of colour pellets that were not properly dried and excess quantity of finished and unfinished crackers in the working sheds had reportedly led to the fire accident at the Sri Vijay Pyrotech cracker unit in Anuppankulam near here on Thursday night.

After inspecting the accident site, the Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives (in-charge), R. Venugopal, said that it was a miraculous escape for over 300 employees at the unit as the first explosion took place at 6.40 p.m. after all the workers had left for home. Seventeen working sheds were razed and six partially destroyed in the fire. The licence of the unit was suspended by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation.

The fire was triggered by heat as the colour pellets, meant for usage in aerial fireworks, were stocked in one of the working sheds in the northwest corner of the factory that had a total of 89 working sheds. “The employees had not taken adequate care in stocking the pellets. Those pellets should have been fully dried under the shade before being stocked,” Mr. Venugopal said.

Stating that the debris of the concrete buildings was thrown to up to 200 metres, he said such an impact could have been created only by excess stocking of chemicals against the established norms.

“As against the permitted quantity of 25 kg of explosives to be stocked in each working shed, we found storage of over 100 kg in many of the sheds,” the official said. He also attributed this violation to the flames and incessant bursting of chemicals for over two hours.

PESO has asked the cracker manufacturers belonging to three different associations to form a six-member technical committee to probe three recent accidents at cracker units (including Anuppankulam unit) that were caused by decomposition of fireworks composition. Meanwhile, the Sivakasi East police arrested the factory foreman, S. Selvam (51) of Sivakasi, in connection with the accident. He was charged under Section 286 of Indian Penal Code for negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance and the provisions of Indian Explosive Substances Act.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National