The fire service officials said the large factory building with 35,000 square feet on every floor should have at least four staircases. The trapped workers could not come out of the factory, the officials said adding that there was heat and smoke in the staircases.
The officials also claimed so many people would not have died if there had been an adequate number of staircases, following the building code.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) deputy inspector general Soumen Barua said the investigation committee is working. "Action would be taken as per the law if any negligence for the factory fire is found against anyone."
While visiting the spot, it was found first floor of six-storey building has a carton manufacturing factory. Machinery were packed in the cartons there. Toast biscuits were made in the second floor. Soft drinks were prepared on the third floor. Lollipops, Nocilla (chocolate spread), chocolates, and semai (vermicelli) were made on the fourth floor. On the fifth floor there was edible oil and on the sixth, a carton warehouse.
Each floor was separated by netting. The factory authorities would use the building as a central godown. The fire quickly spread due to the huge amount of goods. As a result the workers could not come out.
Rajib Hossain, who would work in the factory, is missing.
"The factory has caught fire and it is burning. We are unable to come out," his wife Amena Akhter quoted his husband as saying over mobile phone. Afterwards, she could not contact her husband, she said while speaking to Prothom Alo.
The fire service officials, who joined the rescue work, said there were plastic, paper and chemicals in the building. These materials helped spread the fire.
A total of 18 units of fire service took 19 hours to extinguish the fire.
Fire service director (operation) Lieutenant Zillur Rahman said the building should have at least four staircases in accordance with its size. If there were exit stairs, so many people would not have died, the official added.
He said the building was packed with goods from the first floor to sixth floor.
As there was netting in each floor, fire fighters could not take the water everywhere, Zillur said adding that it took time to extinguish the fire.
The industrial police said 1,700 workers worked in the factory. However, some 150-200 workers were working overtime on the day.
Factory management (Admin) Rafiqul Islam said the factory building has been made in accordance with the law. There was no flaw in the firefighting management, the official claimed.