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1 Killed, 5 Injured in Bangladesh Factory Fire

A fire broke out at a dyeing factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh last Sunday, killing one and injuring as many as five.

According to a statement by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, one of the country’s two major initiatives aimed at improving conditions in the garment industry, the fire originated at an acrylic yarn store on the third floor of the Mega Yarn Dyeing Mills Limited factory. The fire then spread to upper floors through an unprotected lift shaft.

Workers attempted to control the blaze with in-factory equipment before fire personal arrived, but ultimately evacuated the building. Firefighters brought the flames under control more than five hours later.

Anwar Hossain, a factory operator, lost his life in the incident, and the others were injured on the scene, according to reports.

The Accord had inspected Mega Dyeing for fire and electrical safety at the end of August, but the organization did not disclose those findings on its website. In light of last week’s fire, the Accord said it will assess the damage to the factory and work with the owner, workers and brands to execute required remediation.

Bangladesh’s other major safety initiative, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, said it also inspected the Mega Yarn factory last November, noting that several fire safety improvements were made following the inspection. Fire doors, a central fire alarm, strategically located hydrants and hand railings were all put in place to assist with safe evacuation, an Alliance statement noted.

According to the statement, “The Alliance also facilitated safety trainings with workers in June and July 2014, equipping them with the knowledge to identify fire hazards and evacuate safely in case of an emergency. We believe these improvements led to the swift evacuation of workers and prevented greater loss of life at this factory.”

This latest fire comes as the country struggles to shed its tarnished image as a sourcing locale. Recent reports have shown that U.S. imports from Bangladesh are still strong, and according to expert panelists discussing compliance at Sourcing Journal’s 2014 Summit last week, the country has upped its factory safety and put initiatives in place, like removing the tariff on fire door imports, to encourage compliant practices.

But the Mega Dyeing factory fire, according to both the Alliance and Accord, highlights the urgent need for continued vigilance in ensuring that all factories are assessed and necessary safety-related remediation is properly addressed.