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DSCC probe committee: Fire spread due to chemicals inside warehouse

  • Published at 11:45 am February 22nd, 2019
DSCC press briefing
DSCC officials hold press briefing at the scene of Chawkbazar fire on February 22, 2019Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Committee chief said buildings putting public safety at risk will be marked with warnings

The fire that broke out at Churihatta intersection of Old Dhaka’s Chawkbazar area spread rapidly due to the chemicals in the warehouses of the area, according to the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) probe committee.

The ten-member committee, led by DSCC Chief Engineer Rezaul Karim, visited the site of the massive fire around 9:30am on Friday.

Speaking to the media, the chief engineer said: “The first and second floors of Wahed Mansion, a building gutted by the fire, are severely damaged. A week of thorough investigation will reveal whether the structure needs to be demolished or not.

“Other affected buildings are more or less structurally intact. Buildings putting public safety at risk will be marked with warnings.”

The DSCC official pointed out that a significant quantity of combustible substances and chemicals had been stored inside Wahed Mansion. 

“The fire, fuelled by the chemicals, generated extreme heat and spread quickly throughout the neighbourhood,” he added.

"There must have been a chemical warehouse inside the building, and there was no fire extinguishing system," Lt Col SM Julfiker Rahman, a member of the probe body, told reporters after visiting Haji Wahed Mansion.

Also Read- Fire strikes Old Dhaka again: 67 killed in Chawkbazar inferno

"The powder found in the building was from a chemical substance...the plastic bottles were full of chemicals," Lt Col Julfiker, also director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, said.

He added that lighter fluid and perfume were among the flammable chemicals stored in the building.

Meanwhile, another member of the committee, BUET Prof Dr Mehedi Ahmed Ansari, said it would take a week to figure out whether the fire-ravaged buildings are fit for further use.

“Five buildings were damaged,” Dr Mehedi said, adding that Wahed Mansion had a chemical warehouse on its second floor and was not equipped to deal with a fire.

He further said the building had only one staircase, which is insufficient in relation to its size.

The 10 member probe body also includes DSCC Urban Planning Expert Md Sirajul Islam, Rajuk Supervisor Engineer Md Nurul Islam, and Director Md Shah Alam.

Sixty-seven people were killed in the massive fire that ravaged several multi-storey buildings at Nanda Kumar Lane in the Churihatta area of Chawkbazar, Old Dhaka on Wednesday night.

It took 37 fire-fighting units 15 hours to douse the flames.