Young heroes fight for their lives

At least eight firefighters have been killed in the massive fire that broke out at the private inland container depot in Chittagong

Mohammad Robin and Gaushul Azam are two young men who have a lot in common. They are both 22 years old, newly married, and both of them unflinchingly answered the call of duty when a deadly fire erupted at the BM Container Depot in Sitakunda upazila of Chittagong.

Unfortunately, neither of the two firefighters would escape their latest trial by fire unscathed. Robin suffered burns on 40% of his body, while Gaushul is in critical condition with 80% burns.

The two were airlifted to Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in Dhaka from the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Chittagong for better treatment yesterday afternoon.

Robin’s father-in-law Hanif Ali told Dhaka Tribune Robin would always call his mother, wife and mother-in-law before and after he was called to put out a fire. 

“Robin called us around 10pm on Saturday and said he would call again when the work was done. We kept waiting, but it got to 10am in the morning yesterday and there was no word,” he said.

Robin has been working in the Fire Service for the past three years. His wife and family live in the Dhamrai area of Dhaka, but he was posted in Sitakunda.

His wife Bonna Akhter said: “My husband has only been home five times since we were married last year. We last met 20 days ago and were planning to have a baby next year.”

After he was brought to Dhaka, Robin’s father and father-in-law went to see him at the hospital. At the time, he called Bonna to urge her not to worry.

“He called me in his condition and said he would recover and come home as soon as possible,” Bonna said, her voice shaking with emotion. 

Hanif Ali said: “I never thought we would find my son-in-law alive. I reassured the family by talking to Robin, but his back is raw. There are more wounds on his legs. He just told his mother and wife on the phone that he still alive.”

Robin's father has been sitting frozen on the veranda of the hospital with tears in his eyes since seeing his son.

Gaushul Azam’s family were informed that he was in critical condition yesterday morning. They were yet to reach the hospital at the time of filing this report.

Shahidul Suman, station officer of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, told the Dhaka tribune: “The doctor said Gaushul needs an operation as soon as possible, and they will perform it [today]. His condition is critical. The lower part of the body is more damaged.”

Regarding both Gaushul and Robin, the official said: “They were both newly married and had a lot of courage and interest in working. We do not know the specifics of how they were injured yet. They jumped to put out the fire without thinking for a second. They are fighters.”  

So far, at least eight firefighters have been killed in the massive fire that broke out at the private inland container depot in Chittagong. The fire broke out at around 9 pm.

As many as 13 other fire service personnel were undergoing treatment at Chittagong CMH. Meanwhile, Several firefighters are missing in action.

Anisur Rahman, deputy director of Chattogram divisional fire service, told Dhaka Tribune a total of 250 to 300 firefighters under 25 fire service units were working to put out the fire. In addition to the units from Chittagong, reinforcements had to be called in from Dhaka, Bandarban, and Khagrachhari.