Losing all of her belongings to a fire, Lipi Akter was bewailing at the site in Chattogram city’s Mirzar Pool yesterday.
The fire broke out in the slum on Decoration Lane around 10:30am, burning more than 100 shanties owned by one Babul Chowdhury, said fire service officials.
Sitting on a wheelchair, Lipi was staring at the spot where her shanty existed. She could not but shed tears as the house was burnt to ashes. “I had saved Tk 5,000 which was inside my house,” the 34-year-old grieved.
To save their lives, she and her 12-year-old daughter managed to come out of the shanty leaving all the possessions they had. Panicked by the devastating fire, the girl seemed to be traumatised.
Several years ago, Lipi lost her walking ability to an accident. “Since then, me and my daughter have been trying to make a living by seeking alms,” she said.
The woman was among several hundred slum dwellers losing their belongings. Around 30 people sustained injuries while they were coming out of their shanties, according to fire service.
“Many of them sustained cuts and many suffocated,” said Istakul Islam, a member of Red Crescent Society. They provided 16 injured with primary treatment, he said.
Like Lipi, another resident, Sumi Akter, was not able to save her belongings, “Hearing hue and cry, I could manage to come out. All my hard-earned valuables have been burnt,” said the woman, who works as a domestic help.
Sumi had been living in the slum for four years. “Where will I go now?” she lamented.
Some 120 tin-roofed thatched houses were burnt in the fire, said Taufiqul Islam Bhuiyan, sub-assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Chattogram.
Firefighters with 15 vehicles rushed to the spot and doused the blaze around 12:30pm, he said.
“The reason behind the fire could not be known immediately,” said the official, adding that they were investigating the incident.
MA Aziz, assistant sub-inspector of Panchlaish Police Station, said firefighters had to struggle to conduct operation as their vehicles could not reach close to the spot due to illegal shops on the road. “So, those have to be parked on the main road.”