A probe body will be formed to ascertain the exact cause of the fire, says Fire Service and Civil Defence
At least four people, including a woman, were killed while 24 others including three firemen sustained burn injuries in a fire that broke out at a chemical warehouse in Armanitola of Old Dhaka early Friday.
The fire started at the ground floor of a six-storey building named Haji Musa Mansion at 3:18am, said Mahfuz Riben, duty officer at the control room of Fire Service and Civil Defence.
Various sorts of chemical substances were stored at the ground floor, he said.
Nineteen firefighting units brought the blaze under control at 6:08am, he added.
The deceased are Sumaiya Akter, student at Eden College; Md Rasel Mia, employee at a store in the building, Oli Ullah, security guard; and his relative Md Kabir.
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A total of 21 people were rescued alive from the building. Among them, four sustained burn injuries while others fell sick due to excessive smoke.
The injured were taken to Mitford Hospital at first and later transferred to Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute.
Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute Resident Physician Dr Partho Shankar Pal said one of the injured was released after giving primary treatment.
The four burn victims sustained highest 35% burn injuries and receiving treatment at the ICU unit. The rest of the injured were kept in the post-operative ward as they sustained damage to their respiratory system, Dr Partho said.
Fire Service and Civil Defence Director General Brig Gen Md Sazzad Hussain visited the spot.
"A probe body will be formed to ascertain the exact cause of the fire," he added.
Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Kamrul Islam visited the scene as well.
He said: "We are initially suspecting that the fire may have started from the chemical warehouse. There are eight to ten warehouses on the ground floor of this building. There are various chemicals lying around without any labels in the open.”
He said the fire spread quickly due to the presence of combustible material and the whole building was engulfed in smoke.
“We have collected various evidence. We are also looking into whether they have a license to conduct business here,” he added.
While visiting the hospital, Dhaka Deputy Commissioner (DC) Md Shahidul Islam said it is a very sad and unfortunate incident.
The government is paying Tk25,000 to each family of the deceased for to complete burial proceedings. The injured will receive Tk15,000 each for treatment, the DC said.
Old Dhaka remains a ticking time bomb during fires because of illegal chemical warehouses, unplanned building construction, narrow roads and high population density.
In February 2019, a devastating fire at Wahed Mansion in the Churihatta area of Chawkbazar claimed 71 lives.
In June 2010, a deadly fire in Nimtoli took 124 lives.
Our correspondent Aminul Islam Babu contributed to this report.