On Tuesday, a fire overrun a garment factory in Bangladesh, killing seven and reportedly injuring dozens more.
According to police reports, the fire erupted in a two-story building that is part of the Aswad Composite Mills Ltd. factory in the Gazipur industrial district, approximately thirty-five miles north of Dhaka. As of this morning, the fire still blazed on, frustrating firefighters attempts to extinguish it completely.
Wal-Mart, Hudson Bay Co. and Joe Fresh all contract with Aswad Composite Mills for the production of their apparel. A Wal-Mart spokesman issued a statement saying it is “working to understand the facts and will take appropriate action based on our findings.” Hudson Bay claims that it hasn’t worked with the factory since last April, and has terminated its contracts with them. However, the clothing maker declined to specify what inspired the termination.
Aswad Composite Mills is one of the 1,500 factories covered by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a consortia of more than ninety retailers assembled to supervise and finance the improvement of factory safety in Bangladesh. Scott Nova, director of the Workers’ Rights Consortium, said, “The safety accord in it of itself doesn’t change anything, which is why this fire underscores the urgency of getting factory inspections and renovations under way.”
Fortunately, when the fire broke out the factory was closed. However, there were some workers on site putting in overtime. There were approximately 200 workers in the building when the fire began.
Masud Ahmad, a worker in the factory’s knitting section, said, “The fire started at 6 pm in the dyeing unit. We could see the smoke and heard people screaming.”