The blazing flames at the multistoried BSEC building in Dhaka’s Kawran Bazar were doused after nearly two hours of efforts.
Gusts of black smokes were seen coming out from the top floors of the Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation (BSEC) building that housed several offices including television channels Rtv, ntv and the online section of Amar Desh.
The fire began around 11:48am and 21 fire-fighting units brought the flames under control at 1:56pm, Md Jibon Mia, operator at the headquarters of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, told The Daily Star Online.
“There have been no casualties. The cause of the fire will be confirmed after further investigation,” said Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, told reporters at the spot. “The 11th floor of the building was completely gutted.”
According to the official, the building, where three people were killed and about 50 injured during a devastating fire in February 2007, lacked adequate fire safety measures.
A three-member panel will be formed to investigate the incident and asked to report by a week.
Our correspondent quotes fire-fighters who worked at the spot to report that the fire could have been originated from short circuit in the warehouse of Amar Desh office.
The transmission of Rtv and ntv stopped around 12:56pm following the incident after the main power source to the building was shut down.
Ntv Chairman Mosaddeque Ali Falu visited the spot around 1pm. He said: “How can an institution progress if it is struck by fire incidents repeatedly?”
About 100 fire fighters along with volunteers worked frantically to douse the flames. They used two long ladders to reach for the top floors of the building.
Ambulances were stationed nearby along with additional water-carrier trucks.
Traffic was curbed along the Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue because of the fire, however, this was not causing a serious tailback since it was a weekend.
AMAR DESH SMELLS A RAT
Our correspondent reports that a peon of Amar Desh, Abbas Ali Hawladar, who was working with about 12 other labourers for office-shifting purpose was the last person to come out of the warehouse today morning.
Abbas claimed that the fire began in a locked room of the warehouse where official files, out-of-date computers and other materials were stacked up.
The officials of Amar Desh said they smell a rat behind the fire at the BSEC building that gutted the media’s online office at Kawran Bazar today.
“We want to state clearly that this was not a fire under normal circumstances, this is a mysterious fire” said Syed Abdal Ahmed, executive editor of the media house, at a presser today.
“About 500 of our journalists were leading distressed life after the government sealed our press and locked up our Editor Mahmudur Rahman,” he said hours after the fire was doused.
“We could not pay the rent for our online office. Yesterday (Thursday) we cleared our dues. Today we were moving to a new office to run the online section in full flow. Our hopes were raised.”
They demanded for compensation and immediate release of their editor along with permission to continue publication of the Bangla daily from the presser.
Among others, journalists MA Aziz, Abdul Hai Shikder, Ilias Khan, Rashed Chowdhury and other journos of the daily were present during the briefing.
Amar Desh online office was located on the 11th floor of the building. Among other offices on that floor was a law chamber belonging to Tanjib-ul-Alam and another garment accessories’ office.
The warehouse contained about 150 computers and about 35 air conditioners. Amar Desh said to have had Tk 1 crore pending in rent for the office.
Khirul Anwar Mukul, head of ntv news, claimed that the fire originated from Amar Desh office. “Our employees managed to get away into safety.”