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Vikash Sharma

At least 25 people were injured after a major fire broke out inside a gutkha manufacturing unit at Saradhapali in Sambalpur district on Monday.

Though the exact cause of fire is unclear, it is suspected that the mishap occurred following a blast in a machine. Most of the employees, who were working inside the factory, were from outside Odisha.

“We were operating the machine when it went off. We do not know what happened for which the mishap occurred,” said Balbir, an injured who hails from Kanpur.

“Around 25 persons have been injured in the incident. Most of them are out of danger. However, two of them have sustained critical burn injuries,” said Sambalpur SP B. Gangadhar.

The senior police official said that the mishap occurred when the employees were packing Pan Masala. “We will conduct a detailed investigation to ascertain the exact cause of fire,” he said.

Following the incident, all the injured were rushed to VSS Medical in Burla. A massive operation was launched by Odisha Fire Services Personnel to douse the flames. Sources said that the rescue operation was initially affected as a thick blanket of smoke had engulfed the entire factory complex following the mishap.

“The area was filled with smoke and it was not possible to enter the area. The ground and first floor had caught fire and somehow we managed to douse the flames. We along with others rescued the staff and rushed them to hospital. It took us over an hour to douse the flames,” said an official of the Fire Services Department.

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