The fire-ravaged Smart Export Garments Ltd in city's Mohammadpur area has no minimum fire safety measures that led to the deadly blaze Saturday last, claiming seven lives, fire investigators told the FE after visiting the spot.
They also said owners of the apparel unit even did not feel the necessity of obtaining fire licence before going into production.
"We did not find any fire safety initiatives by the owners at the factory to protect its workers as well as valuables of the unit," Director (Operations) of Fire Service and Civil Defence Major Mahbub Uddin said.
Mr Mahbub, who is also a key member of the four-member probe team formed by the fire department, was talking to the FE correspondent Sunday afternoon after inspecting the place of occurrence.
"The most important and horrible aspect is that the factory authority even did never apply for fire licence from us," he said, adding that no fire extinguisher and fire exit were found during the inspection.
Another senior official of the fire department said they inspected the densely-populated area six months ago and found a concrete structure there having no licence.
"There was no apparel unit at the building. I think the factory owners started production there for the last couple of months," he said preferring anonymity.
The authorities of Fire Service and Civil Defence formed a four-member investigation team, headed by Deputy Director (Admin) of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Bikash Chandra Bhadra, immediately after the tragedy and was asked to submit its findings within the next seven working days.
When contacted, leaders of the country's prime apparel bodies -- Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) -- said Smart Export Garments has no affiliation with the associations.
"We've been raising voices for long to take immediate measures to bring such factories having no links with the associations under regular monitoring by the apparel platforms," BGMEA second vice-president Siddiqur Rahman said.
He said the country has at least 500 small factories, which are not the members of BGMEA or BKMEA.
Meanwhile, three owners of the Smart Export Garments Ltd have been sued for negligence by the father of a dead worker.
Altaf Hossain, father of garment worker Razia, killed in the fire, filed the complaint on Saturday midnight with Mohammadpur Police Station.
Mohammadpur Police station OC (Investigations) Azizul Haque said that the complainant alleges criminal negligence on the part of the management that led to the fire and the deaths and injures.
The complaint has named Subhas, Director, Mohammed Sharif, Managing Director and Zakir Ahmed, Chairman of the company responsible for the incident.
He also complained against some unnamed officials of `Smart' for carelessness in the garment factory.
OC Azizul Haque on Sunday evening said there was no progress in the case.
"But we are trying to nab the owners. We are looking for them in all the possible places they can hide," he said.
Fire broke out in the store of the double-storeyed factory of "Smart" garments at Beribadh in Mohammadpur at around 2:30 on Saturday.
Some seven poor workers died and at least 50 others were injured either following a stampede or in the smoke when they tried to rush out in panic due to the fire.
Firefighters, hospital doctors, factory workers and locals said both the fatalities and injuries were caused as the garment workers scrambled to get out of the factory when the fire broke out.
Witnesses said the high casualties also occurred as some workers jumped out of the factory windows in their frantic efforts to survive after the fire broke out at the storage house that had sponges and other components used for making apparels.
Most of the injured were admitted to Zainul Haque Sikder Women Medical College and Hospital in Mohammadpur, they said.
At least 360 workers, mostly female ones, were working at the factory when the blaze broke out, the factory management sources said.
Mahbubur Rahman said nine firefighting units from Lalmatia Fire Station, Fire Service headquarters and another city fire stations took part in taming the flame and it took them about two hours to get things under control at the RMG unit.
The fire in 'Smart Export Garments Ltd` took place 63 days after the country's deadliest factory fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd, an export-oriented RMG unit located in Ashulia under Savar upazila, which left 111 workers killed and more than 200 injured on November 24 last year.