400 shanties gutted in fire
At least 400 shanties at Begunbari in the capital's Tejgaon industrial area were gutted in a devastating fire yesterday morning.
Fire officials said there was no report of casualty as most of the inhabitants of the shanties were out of their homes for work while children had been either in school or playing outside.
Abu Hashem, station officer of Tejgaon Fire Station, said the fire might have originated from a gas oven or an electric short-circuit on the first floor of a house around 10:00 am.
It soon spread to the seven adjacent tin-shed buildings, six of them three-storey structures built with tin and wood on platforms over water, he said.
Locals said the fire spread quickly as it was windy at that time. Padma Poly Cotton, a factory near the spot, was also damaged in the fire.
Eight firefighting units rushed to the spot, brought the flame under control by 11:00 am and finally doused it around 2:15 pm.
Runa Begum, who used to live with her husband and three children in a one-room shanty owned by Helal, lost all her belongings as fire ravaged her room.
Her husband Md Milon Miah, a rickshaw-van puller, said he was asleep at the time of the incident after a whole night's work.
"I woke up hearing my daughter's scream and rushed out of the house," he said, adding, "I could not save my cell phone, Tk 15,000 cash and furniture."
The tenants of the gutted shanties are mostly lower income people like garments workers, rickshaw pullers, day labourers and hawkers.
Nurul Haque, a house owner, said three tin-shed houses that belonged to him and his two brothers were burnt down in the fire. Around 200 tenants used to live in those houses.
Some accounts hinted that it might be arson.