A stroke of a match has torn apart the entire world of Shah Newaz.
Believed to have originated from accumulated gas early yesterday, a blaze at his house in the capital's Uttara took lives of two of his sons, injured him and his wife critically and slightly burnt another son.
Sharlin bin Newaz, 15, and Zayan bin Newaz, 1, died around 5:05pm and 6:50pm at the intensive care unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital's burn unit.
Shah Newaz, 50, a maintenance engineer of US embassy in Dhaka, his wife Sumaiya Begum, 40, are fighting for their lives with 95 and 90 percent burns.
Another son, nine-year-old Zarif bin Newaz, who suffered six percent burns, was released from the hospital after treatment.
Sumaiya's brother Abul Khayer Khan Hamim said the fire broke out around 6:30am when Shah Newaz lit the gas stove to make tea. Sumaiya was in prayer and their sons were asleep.
The fire engulfed the flat within a minute, giving them no time to come out, he said, quoting the injured.
Zarif told The Daily Star that he woke up from sleep “with severe pains in the legs and hands”.
"Opening my eyes, I only saw fire all around."
The condition of the couple, who are receiving treatment at the High Dependency Unit, is very critical, said Munny Momotaz, duty doctor of the burn unit.
They had suffered burns in their respiratory tracks.
Firemen and police said the fire started as accumulated gas came into contact with a flame.
Ali Hossain Khan, officer-in-charge of Uttara Paschim Police Station, said they found in primary investigation that the fire was caused by accumulated gas. But they are yet to be sure whether there was a gas line leak or somebody forgot to turn off the burner.
Hamim said the family moved in to the residence on the top floor of the seven-storey building at Sector-13 from Sector-5 in Uttara just a week ago.
Shah Newaz, sensing emission of gas, made several complaints to the house owner about the “faulty gas line”. The owner did not take it seriously, saying such emissions often occur, Hamim alleged.
The casualties took place, of course, due to the negligence of the house owner, he said.
The house owner, Mirza Delwar Hossain, who visited the victims at DMCH, however, claimed that he repaired the gas line on receiving the complaints.
"I do not know what caused the incident," he said.
Mozammel Hoque, deputy director of Dhaka Division Fire Service & Civil Defence, told The Daily Star that to prevent such incidents, residents have to ensure there is sufficient ventilation in kitchen and the burner is turned off when they go to bed.
They also should open all the windows before lighting stoves in the morning, he said. Besides, the gas lines have to be checked at least once a month.