Slum fire ravaged everything they had | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 25, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:30 AM, November 25, 2020

Slum fire ravaged everything they had

Rahmat Mia, 23, lives in a tin-shed room with a monthly rent of Tk 3,500 with his wife, mother, sister and niece in Mohakhali's Sat Tola slum.

Rahmat was struggling to make ends meet and had two months' worth of rent pending.

While he was already worried about how to run his family in the days ahead, the horrific fire at the slum on Monday night burnt everything to ashes.

Rahmat's family was able to save their lives but all their belongings were destroyed.

The fire broke out around 11:45pm, gutting 72 houses and 26 shops.

Rakib Islam, 15, sustained burn injuries from the fire. The boy, who works as a labourer, has been undergoing treatment at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery around 2:00am since yesterday with 25 percent burns.

Firefighters suspect the fire began from an electric short circuit, while locals say it originated in a shop.

During a visit to the slum yesterday, Rahmat was found searching for anything that could be salvaged from his burnt possessions.

Describing how he came to know about the fire, Rahmat said it occurred after they all had fallen asleep following dinner at 10:00pm. They woke up to people shouting and then saw the fire right next to their house.

"I managed to get out safely with my family but could not take any valuables out," he told this correspondent.

Rahmat said ever since they came to the slum 16 years back from their village home in Narsingdhi due to struggles, their home had burnt down twice, rendering them helpless and in financial ruins.

"Ten years ago, our house was first burnt. We struggled very hard to save money and buy household items. But now, everything is gone again!" he said with grief.

Like Rahmat, every victim has their own story to tell.

Beauty Rani Chandra was seen crying as she looked at the wreckage inside her home. All the belongings of her one-year-old family, include her wedding attire, were burnt to ashes.

Her husband Dulal Chandra said that though his income dropped due to pandemic, he managed to save some money even after family expenses and house rent.

He saved Tk 40,000 to pay off a Tk 1 lakh loan.

However, the money and his wife's gold were destroyed in the fire. "With everything else, our dreams of our future have also been destroyed. I do not know how will I be debt free," he said.

Shilpi Begum, another resident of the slum, said she lived there for ten years with her husband and two children. "The fire reduced my 10-year savings to ashes," she wailed.

She and other victims of the fire sought help from the government and from those who are financially well off.


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