At least 65 families had their homes destroyed in the devastating fire on Saturday night at the Fashertek Balur Math slum in Vatara of Dhaka. With nowhere to go, these families are living under the open sky.
Authorities estimate that around Tk50 lakh worth of property was damaged in the fire.
This correspondent visited the slum on Tuesday and found victims sifting through the debris to try to find their belongings. However, all but the tin sheets were burnt to ashes.
Residents of the slum said around 65 houses were rented on the two sides of the slum. Din Islam alias Dilu and his uncle Jafar owned 46 houses on one side. Mohammad Siddique owns 20 houses on the other. All have been burnt to ashes.
Many are guessing it was caused by a cooking fire. Victims claimed that the fire broke out on Siddique’s side. Within 20 minutes two gas cylinders exploded and the fire spread across the whole slum.
Bakul Mia, a scrap dealer, said all his stock had been burnt down in the fire. He and his brothers have lost goods worth about Tk6-8 lakh.
Mohammad Dalim, owner of a tea stall outside the slum, said: “I called 999 for help.”
Half an hour later, a Fire Service team came, but they could not get near the slum because of narrow roads.
“Then they went around and reached the slum, and doused the fire. By that time everything was finished,” Dalim said.
Siddique said he was outside Dhaka when the incident happened. He returned after hearing about the fire.
“I had warned my tenants about cooking inside the shanties and asked them to always dispose of the ashes from their clay oven safely. But they do not listen always.
“I always keep an eye out for these things. When the fire broke out on Saturday night, I was not here. I do not know what else to say,” he said.
Dilu, the other owner of the slum, said: “We lost everything. It takes time to rebuild the houses. My partner Jafar invested around Tk15-20 lakh here. We do not have the money anymore.”
Siddique and Dilu said Anisur Rahman Koshru owns the land.
Some victims have taken shelter with relatives and some are staying at a warehouse nearby. People from the surrounding areas have raised funds and bought food. The local MP has promised some assistance as well.