Narrow staircases, windows with grills on them and a locked terrace turned the building which housed a manufacturing unit into a ‘death chamber’ where 43 people were killed and 16 other suffered injuries at Anaj Mandi area in the wee hours of Sunday.
While those in the first two floors managed to escape, those on the third and fourth floor were trapped as the fire broke out on the second floor, blocking their only exit route.
A Delhi Fire Service (DFS) personnel, who was the first to respond to the situation said they reached the location within five minutes, but were unable to enter the building because of the intensity of fire. “We tried to enter the building from the terrace, but it was locked. We tried to go inside through a window, but it had grills. So, we had to call for a gas-cutter to remove the grills,” said the firefighter.
The team trying to get inside the building from the main entrance was also struggling because of congested lane, due to which only one fire engine could enter at a time, he said. A second staircase he said, was stuffed with raw material used in the manufacturing unit.
There were around 75 workers in the building when fire broke out in the second floor allegedly due to short circuit, said a police officer.