- Part of market with 296 shops collapsed
- 234 shops heavily damaged
- Loss of property estimated at Tk 200 crore
- Fire originated around 2:00am
- Brought under control around 5:45pm
- Owners fear sabotage
-7-member probe body formed
The fire at Dhaka North City Corporation market in Gulshan-1 was brought under control this evening, around 16 hours into its inception.
The market that houses over 600 shops caught fire around 2:00 am today.
Twenty-two units of firefighters brought the fire under control around 5:45 pm, Maj Shakil Newaj, director (operations and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters, told media.
“The fire cannot engulf anymore. Some spot fires are still sparking under the debris of the market,” he said.
Firefighters started demolition work at different parts of the market around 9:00 pm to douse the fire, he added.
Around dawn, a portion of the market with 296 shops collapsed following the fire, Talat Regvi, chairman of DNCC Market Traders’ Association, told The Daily Star.
Besides, over 234 shops were heavily damaged in the fire, he said adding, “The loss is estimated at Tk 200 crore.”
He, however, said that if the firefighters were more sincere then the fire could have been brought under control earlier and the loss could have been lowered.
Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence control room said they were yet to ascertain the reason behind the fire. Businessmen fear the incident was an act of sabotage.
Meanwhile, Regvi claimed the fire originated from electric short-circuit in the building.
He said a security guard informed him just after the incident that the south-east block caught fire.
However, no casualty was reported. Fire service headquarters’ control room officer Babul Mia spoke of a rescue operation in the early morning where at least six people were saved.
7-member probe body formed
A seven-member probe body was formed to find out the cause behind the fire and estimate the loss of the properties.
The committee headed by Lt Col Mosharaf Hossain, director planning and development, of Fire Service and Civil Defence, has been asked to submit its report by 15 working days.
NHRC Chief, businessmen fear sabotage
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque fears that the incident was an act of sabotage. He spoke to businessmen and others at the spot before making his comment.
“It needs to be verified whether it was an act of sabotage or accident. People are not fools. These types of fire incidents are happening frequently which is suspicious. Why are they happening?” he said.
He proposed for a joint meeting of police, fire service and shop owners in the process to ascertain the reason behind the fire. “If the incident is an act of sabotage, then the culprits must be found out and brought to book. If not, then it must be found out who are responsible for the fire.”
Sher Mohammad, president of DNCC Kancha Market Traders' Association, alleged that the fire was an act of sabotage. “We are sure, that this was an act of sabotage.”
In response to the allegations of sabotage behind the incident, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia avoided a direct answer to reporters at the spot. “Let us douse the fire first.”
‘Transformer blast cause behind fire'
The fire originated from a transformer blast on the south side of the market, according to Nur Mohammad, a security guard of the Gulshan DNCC Kancha Market.
“I was on duty when I heard a big bang around 2:00 am,” he said.
“The fire spread to the southern part in a few minutes. Then, I screamed and shouted,” he added.
Another security guard of the market Matiur Rahman said, “I was with Nur when the fire broke out. We both tried to extinguish the blaze but failed.”
“Later we informed fire service,” Matiur told the correspondent who is reporting from the spot.