Eight persons were charred to death and three others seriously injured in a fire that broke out in three timber scrap godowns in the powerloom town of Bhiwandi near Thane, police and fire officials said.
The incident occurred in Madvi compound in Rahnal at around 2:30 am when the blaze started in one of the three godowns and soon engulfed other two godowns, said senior inspector Anil Akade of Narpoli police station in Bhiwandi.
All the deceased were sleeping in the godowns and could not escape on time, he said, adding that three tempo trucks loaded with timber also perished in the fire.
The flames were finally put out by at least a dozen fire engines, said Nitin Chavan, Chief Fire Officer of Bhiwandi Fire Station. The cause of the fire is not yet known and investigations are underway, he said.
The deceased, who were extricated from the rubble of the fire-ravaged godowns, have been identified as Kalia Gomti Raidat, 20, Raju Patetri Chavan, 35, Munnibai Shyamdeo Yadav, 26, Marai, 30, Ajay, 38, Gouri Chavan, 28, Niraj, 21 and an unidentified person.
District Disaster Control Officer Dr Jaideep Visave said the deceased hailed from Nepal and Bihar and their bodies were charred beyond recognition. The injured have been admitted to a local hospital and one of them has been shifted to Sion hospital.
Police have registered a case against four persons, including owner of the plot of land on which the godowns were located, under section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
The accused are identified as Munnawar Ali Jang Bahadur Khan, owner of one of the three timber scarp godowns, Shaukat Ali Usman Ansari and his son Ismail Usman Ali Ansari, owners of the other godowns and Rajan Madvi, who is the owner of the plot of land, Akade said.
According to police, the accused did not have necessary license or permission from authorities concerned for housing the godowns on the plot. "No measures to prevent fire were in place at the godowns," he said.