DUBAI // Eleven workers have been killed in a fire at a perfume manufacturing business in the Al Quoz industrial area, Dubai police officials have confirmed. The premises of Afnan Perfumes were being used as a manufacturing unit, warehouse and accommodation area for some workers, who were sleeping in the building when the fire broke out at 12.57am on Tuesday, Dubai Civil Defence officials said. Several teams of firefighters immediately began rescue operations and quickly had the fire under control but were unable to save the workers. The Emirati owner of the company, his Indian partner and the Indian manager of the company were arrested following the incident. A police source later said that the owner was released on bail. They have been referred to public prosecutors for violating safety and health regulations and the consequent accidental deaths. "Their act of housing workers in the warehouse has resulted in the death of 11 people and so this cannot be ignored," said Major Gen Khamis Mattar al Mazeina, the acting Dubai police chief. The civic authority launched a campaign in 2007 to crack down on companies using warehouses to shelter workers. Civil defence officials regularly inspect such facilities and violators are issued fines ranging from Dh500 to Dh50,000. More than 300 fines and warnings were issued by the civil defence in the first half of this year to warehouses and companies found violating fire, health and safety regulations. "The main challenge in finding out about workers sleeping in warehouse is that many times they sleep on mattresses during the night and remove them during the day, so we are not able to catch them," said Col Ahmad al Sayegh, the civil defence assistant director general. The police investigation into the blaze was under way and could take as long as two weeks, said Lt Col Ahmad al Meherri, who heads the police forensic department. Initial reports suggested that the victims had suffocated. Dubai Municipality inspectors were also at the scene gathering information on the fire and on allegations about the workers being housed in the warehouse against the law. "Our officers were at the spot but it is too early to say what was reason for this. However, there were some clear signs of illegal housing," said Redha Salman, the municipality's head of public health and safety. "We saw a gas cylinder and a cooker there but it was intact. Obviously there were people in the factory that night but we have to investigate what they were doing there." Eyewitnesses described huge plumes of smoke emanating from the warehouse. A security guard in the area called the police upon noticing the fire and rescue services arrived within minutes. "No one knew there were people inside the factory," said a Pakistani national who runs a refrigeration business next to the factory who requested anonymity. "The alarm in my office was activated by the fire, which is when we rushed to the office. By the time we got here the fire was already under control." Afnan Perfumes deals in a range of high-quality scents including concentrated perfume oils and sprays, incense (bukhur) and occidental perfumes, its website said. Its factory was burnt to the ground by the inferno. Its gates were shut and police had cordoned off the area yesterday. However, the scent from the perfumes lingered in the air. A fire in a perfume factory can be as dangerous as one in a petrol station because of the chemicals stored on site, a civil defence spokesman said. "Gases are the worst thing in a fire as the human body can only resist them for a maximum of one minute before losing control completely," he said. Those who died in the blaze included at least three Indian nationals as well as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, company officials confirmed. The names of all the victims were not made available. "The police told me that all bodies are burnt beyond recognition, which is causing a lot of problems," said a friend of one of those known to have perished in the blaze, who asked not to be identified. His friend hailed from India's Kerala state and officials contacted him after the body was identified, he said. "He had come to Dubai only three months ago and his family is in India," said the friend.