Fire destroys 200 shanties at Rupnagar slum
Around 200 shanties were damaged as a blaze swept through a slum in Dhaka's Rupnagar area this morning, police said.
On information, 25 firefighting units rushed to the spot, Duty Officer of Fire Service and Civil Defence Russel Shikdar told The Daily Star around 11:45am.
The blaze started at the slum around 9:45am, the fire official said.
There are around 700 shanties at the slum, Officer-in-Charge of Rupnagar Police Station Abul Kalam Azad said.
Reason behind the fire could not be known immediately.
Slum dwellers and fire officials said there were illegal gas and electricity connections in the shanties that fueled the fire.
Nur Ali, an inhabitant of the slum, said the fire originated near the Rajanigandha Shopping complex and spread rapidly. People tried to remove their belonging to safety but many could not do so.
Many suspected that the fire might be a sabotage -- an attempt to evict them from the area.
They also alleged that only one or two fire vehicles rushed immediately but others arrived late.
Many people were seen looking in the ashes for remains of their belongings.
Jahera Begum, who was diagnosed with tuberculosis a month ago, said she moved to the slum four months ago with her day labourer husband and three children.
"I and my husband were outside when the fire started…We could not take anything to safety. Everything was burnt to ashes -- my medical documents, Tk 8,500 in cash and my children's books," said Jahera.
Lt Col Zillur Rahman, director (operations and maintenance) of Fire Service said they are now making sure that fire is properly doused.
The official said they had no immediate reports of casualties but a fireman's hand was broken and several others fell ill due to smoke inhalation.
About slum dwellers' allegation of delay in rushing to the spot, he said people are emotionally charged during such disasters.
The connecting roads were blocked with their belongings, obstructing the fire service vehicles from reaching the spot. Some slum dwellers also vandalised a fire service vehicle, he added.
About the delay in controlling the fire, the official said there is no natural source of water like pond or canal in the area -- causing the delay.
"We used the water we carried on vehicles to fight the fire. Later, we took water from nearby buildings," he said.
The fire spread to a nearby six-storey building from the slum.
A committee will be formed to investigate the fire, the fire official said.