PATNA, India – A fire engulfed three illegal firecracker factories in a village in the eastern Indian state of Bihar (search) on Thursday, killing at least 30 people, an official said.
At least 50 were injured in the fire in Khusropur village, 22 miles east of the state capital Patna (search), Superintendent of Police G. P. Sinha told The Associated Press by telephone.
The factories were being run from three houses in the village, and the injured included workers and family members of the owners, Sinha said.
The fire was sparked by an electrical short circuit and quickly spread to the flammable material stored in the factories, Ram Pradesh Singh, an inspector general of police, told journalists in Patna.
The blaze was so powerful that seven people were incinerated almost instantly. The others were asphyxiated by noxious fumes that filled the rooms where they were working.
The owners of two of the three factories had been arrested for stockpiling and storing flammable material in a hazardous manner, Singh said.
Two nearby houses were also destroyed in the explosions and the blaze that engulfed the factories, he said.
A local government official, Mohammed Qasim Ansari, said the factories did not have valid licenses.
Fire safety standards are not followed at most small-town factories in India, many of them running illegally. Evacuation plans are almost never in place.