VELLORE: A major fire accident at a matchbox-manufacturing unit claimed the life of an employee and left 14 others with burns ranging from 10 to 50 per cent, in Laxmanapuram, Meenambalpuram village, on the outskirts of Gudiyatham on Monday.
The flames at ‘The Surya Matches Factory’ on the Gudiyatham-Palamaneri road were first noticed around 4.45 pm, and with the firm’s chemical unit ablaze, the fire soon spread across the premises, with flames as high as 30 feet, gutting the entire company. One E Karthi (35), from the nearby Thattamparai village, who was working at the chemical unit, was charred to death. Almost all the company’s 17 employees were injured, with six of them – S Baby (50), R Latha (50), D Muguntha (39), J Amsaveni (38), M Jayanthi (20) and V Koteeswaran (60) – suffering 50 per cent burns. They were refered to the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital.
Police sources suspect that the fire was caused due to friction between chemicals used in matchsticks. The company, one among the six matchbox-manufacturing units in the locality, had been functioning for more than three years and was owned by three persons from Vellore and Gudiyatham. After being alerted by the company’s staff and security guards, fire and rescue services personnel came to the site from Vellore, Gudiyatham, Anaikattu and Katpadi, and fought for about four hours to bring the fire