A massive fire gutted around 600 shanties in the city’s Madhya Badda area on Monday, leaving some 2,000 people homeless.
Fire service officials said the fire broke out at one of the shanties behind ‘Bhai Bhai Boarding’ at Kha-198 Madhya Badda around 12:55 pm.
On information, 11 fire-fighting units rushed in to douse the blaze. The fire was brought under control at about 1:55 pm and it was fully doused around 5:00 pm. However, there was no report of any injury in the incident.
Badda thana OC Abdul Jalil said the fire originated from a small makeshift house and it then engulfed other small houses one after another. The two-storey tin-roofed ‘Bhai Bhai Boarding’ was mostly damaged in the fire.
Residents of the small makeshift houses first tried to bring the fire under control. Failed, they later informed the fire-fighters, the OC said.
He said nearly 600 shanties were gutted in the fire, but there was no causality.
Halim, a van driver, said he has lost all the valuables he had, including a refrigerator and one TV set, worth 1 lakh, and cash Tk 35,00 to the fire, as his small makeshift house was burned to ashes.
Another resident, Sona Banu, who had been working as a cook in the ‘Bhai Bhai Boarding’ for the last 15 years said, she has got some furniture and other valuables like a TV set and a regenerator ready to give her new son-in-law (daughter’s husband) in dowry. “But, I’ve lost everything,” said a screaming Sona Banu.
Director General of Fire Service and Civil Defence Brig Gen Mohammad Ali said it could not yet be ascertained what actually caused the fire.
He said a three-member committee will be formed to probe the incident.
Osman Gani said he and his four brothers had constructed the small makeshift houses on their ancestral land and rented out those to nearly 2,000 low-income people.
After visiting the spot, Dhaka District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer (DRRO) Md Anwarul Islam said the district administration will take initiatives to help the homeless people as per the existing rules.
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The massive fire in a boarding house at Merul Badda spread rapidly, burning down everything near it.
Frantic locals were driven to panic as flames leapt up and thick smoke billowed out of buildings engulfed by the fire.
The fire originated from ‘Bhai-Bhai Boarding’ in an alley next to Bank Asia around 1am Monday, Fire Brigade Control Room official Mohammad Ali told bdnews24.com.
A CNG refilling station was dangerously close.
The tin-shed lodging, on 13 Bighas of land, belongs to local Ward Councillor Osman Gani. He could not be reached for a comment.
Eight fire-fighting units finally brought the flames under control but the heat from the fire was still disconcerting for the locals.
“It originated from a boarding house and spread to the slum behind it,” said Baridhara Fire Station staff Amanat Hossain.
A news correspondent in the area said the two-storey tin structure – Bhai-Bhai Boarding – has been completely gutted.
Panic spread among people in the buildings near the tin-shed house on fire.
The residents of a multi-storey building, Venus Complex, had to be evacuated. One side of Pragati Sarani was temporarily closed to traffic.
The firefighters said they struggled to control the people who were crowding the area to help or watch, which caused significant delay.
Fire service officials could not say if there have been casualties. But a microbus driver, Giashuddin Rana, said he could not find his wife and two daughters.
Helena Begum said her daughter ‘Shilpi’ lived at Bhai-Bhai Boarding with her two sons – two-year-old ‘Adib’ and two-month-old ‘Atik’.
Begum, who lives in the nearby slum, said her daughter called her asking for help. She was seen crying near the site after firefighters stopped her from entering.
Monirul Islam, a businessman from the area’s Khan Market, said his employees who lived at the boarding house was able to make a quick exit.
“The dousing got delayed because of the huge crowds and the absence of a water source,” said Fire Brigade Deputy Director Nurul Haque.
“We could have put it out way ahead.” – Agencies