The festivities of Eid-ul-Fitr turned tragic for the residents of Vatara Balur Math slum in Dhaka Saturday night, after a fire burnt over 100 shanties and small shops to the ground.
Eye witnesses said the blaze started around 10pm and raged for over three hours before it was brought under control, by which time the slum residents had lost everything.
“I was asleep in my shanty when suddenly I was woken up, to see there was fire in my room,” said Shahnaz Begum, one of the victims of the fire.
“I had to get out immediately to escape the fire; I could not take anything with me. Now I have lost everything,” a tearful Shahnaz added.
Although the exact amount of the losses is not yet known, a number of Vatara Balur Math residents were overcome with grief after losing what small belongings and money they had.
Some Vatara locals blamed the rapid and devastating spread of the fire on the late arrival of the fire Service.
However, Abul Kalam Azad, senior station officer at the Baridhara Fire Service Station, said his officers were not informed of the blaze until 10:57pm – almost one hour after it reportedly started.
“Four units of firefighters were dispatched as soon as they received the call,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
“We rushed there as soon as possible (but) the roads are narrow in the area, so the fire trucks could not go closer to the slum.
“The fire fighters had to use different techniques to douse the fire, which took around three hours.”
Asked what had caused the fire and what the damage was, the fire department official said a probe committee was supposed to be formed to find the reason and the amount of losses.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune on Monday, he could not confirm if the committee had already been formed.