— Probe body to submit report in 15 days
— Temporary treatment booth set up on fire site
— Rescue operation still going on
— DNCC mayor, BNP leader Fakhrul visited spot
A three-member probe committee has been formed to investigate the devastating slum fire in Chalantika area of Dhaka’s Mirpur.
The probe committee has been asked to give a report in this regard within 15 working days, Director (finance and administration) of Fire Service and Civil Defence Habibur Rahman told The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, firefighters were conducting a search operation at the slum since this morning.
So far, they have enlisted 300 families who have been affected by the fire that burned down their 600 rooms last night, our Staff correspondent reports from the spot quoting a fire service official.
Most of the slum dwellers passed the night in the streets and in the open space of nearby Public Works Department (PWD) office premises.
Many of them suffered minor burn injuries while escaping the fire last night. They took primary treatment from the local pharmacies.
On the other hand, DNCC has set up a temporary primary treatment booth this morning and till 2:00pm 41 people took treatment there, mostly for cuts which they sustained while trying to escape the fire in a rush.
Soheli Begum, a dweller of the slum, said the fire originated near Mirpur-7 and it took some time to reach the other end of the slum where she resided.
However, they did not have any exit and so they had to escape after breaking a wall, she said.
She has lost her valuables in the fire including a fridge that her son bought four months ago, she added.
Another slum dweller Md Mamun, a garbage van puller, said that he has lost all his valuables in the fire. There were around Tk 60,000 worth of furniture in his two rented rooms where he lives with his wife and son.
He sold the charred remains of his belongings at Tk 1,200 to a scrap collector.
Many of the dwellers were seen coming to the site in the morning to find anything sellable out of the ruin for buying daily necessities.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and researcher and writer Syed Abul Maksud separately visited the spot around 12:00pm today.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Md Atiqul Islam visited the fire ravaged area last night and today.
Some youth volunteers are trying to provide food for the victims of the fire at nearby Bangabandhu Biddyaniketon School where some of the victims have taken shelter for the time being.
Meanwhile, locals allege that the slum dwellers had illegal gas connection through plastic pipes instead of the metal ones for which fire spread rapidly in the area.
The massive fire broke out at the slum in Chalantika area of Mirpur at around around 7:22pm. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
After a three-hour effort, 24 firefighting units brought the fire under control around 10:35pm.
It was later doused around 1:30am after six hours of frantic efforts by the firefighters, according to the information board of Fire Service and Civil Defence.
The firefighters rescued four injured people and took them to hospital.
The blaze rendered thousands of slum dwellers homeless and left nothing for them other than charred valuables. They are mostly low-wage earners, including garment workers, rickshaw-pullers, house maids and day labourers.
They fled their homes with whatever they could find at hand, as their cries made the neighbourhood gloomy.
Most of the shanties were made of wood or bamboo with the roofs covered with polythene, which helped the fire spread quickly, a fire service official earlier told this newspaper.
Many of the families went to their hometowns to celebrate Eid and were yet to return, a local said, adding that the blaze destroyed everything as most of the shanties were locked from outside.
The slum has three units and can accommodate around 1,000 families, locals said.
Portion of nearby Al-Arabiya mosque have been gutted in the fire.