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Denim Factory Fire in Delhi Kills Two Garment Workers

A fire at a denim manufacturing factory in Delhi, India has killed two garment workers who were ironing and packing finished goods inside the facility.

The factory, which is located in East Delhi’s Kailash Nagar vicinity, produces denim apparel, including jeans. It is unknown which brands and retailers the factory was manufacturing and supplying denim garments for.

According to reports in the Times of India, fire department officials received a call at 11:45 p.m. on Sunday night and sent 10 fire fighters to the building fire.

While conducting search operations, fire fighters found two men, one 22-year-old and one 30-year-old, who both worked at the facility, in a first floor room where they were ironing and packing finished items before the blaze started. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Kishor Agarwal, the building’s owner, told the Times of India that he rented three floors to Shahadat Ali, a local entrepreneur, seven months ago. Ali established a denim manufacturing unit and hired approximately eight garment workers, who stored finished products on the ground floor and stitched jeans on the first and second floors. According to Agarwal, the workers stayed late on Sunday night and were wrapping up tasks before heading home.

“I woke up hearing noises and saw the blaze outside my door,” Agarwal, who lived with his family on the building’s third floor, told the Times of India. Agarwal, who couldn’t go downstairs to escape the fire, went to the terrace with his wife, three sons and daughter and used a wooden ladder to move them to a neighbor’s house. According to the family and nearby residents, the fire fighters reached the building after 60 minutes.

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Following the incident, a preliminary investigation found that the fire started from an iron and then spread to garments and packaging material. A small liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder in the room could have also contributed to the fire, which spread quickly throughout the building.

Nupur Prasad, deputy commissioner of police in Delhi’s Shahdara region, told the Times of India that the fire incident will be brought to court for alleged negligence. Victims’ families were also notified of the incident.

The fire comes on the heels of another deadly factory blaze in Delhi. Earlier this month, a footwear factory fire in the area killed two workers who were sleeping on the floor of the facility. The victims, who were found at the scene with burn injuries, were pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital. Even though the official cause of the fire is unknown, reports pointed to a short circuit that may have ignited the blaze on April 7. The name of the factory was not disclosed, however police told the Financial Express that the area where the men were sleeping was used as chemicals storage for the factory.

Over the past few years, garment industry nations, including Bangladesh, have been working together to reduce the risk of factory accidents and protect workers. Following the Rana Plaza tragedy five years ago, the nation has made progress by collaborating with Western buyers, Bangladeshi manufacturers and multinational unions to enforce safe working conditions nationwide. In March, a UN Committee announced that the nation could move up from its Least Developed country (LDC) category.