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Dhaka Tribune

50 plastic factories gutted in Old Dhaka fire

It took 15 firefighting units almost 5 hours to douse the fire

Update : 11 Dec 2020, 01:17 PM

At least 50 small scale plastic factories that were being run illegally in an abandoned building in Old Dhaka were gutted in a devastating fire early Friday.

No casualties were reported in the blaze that broke out around 3:45am, reports Bangla Tribune citing Fire Service and Civil Defence.

It took 15 firefighting units almost five hours to douse the fire that completely ravaged the four-storey building at Chawk Bazar, which saw 71 people die in a deadly blaze in February last year. The facility called Noakhali Building is very close to the other building where the fatal blaze occurred in 2019.

Inspector Russel Shikder of the state-run firefighting agency said: “The fire was brought under control around 8:40am. But whatever was inside the building was burnt to ashes.”

According to firefighters, the factories housed at the building contained combustible substances, which is why it took so long to douse the fire.

After every fire incident, recommendations are made to relocate such illegal factories from the densely populated area with narrow lanes, but to no avail, they added.

Debashish Bardhan, deputy director of Fire Service and Civil Defence said, the building was declared abandoned as it was unsafe, but it was still housing the factories.

Jahangir Alam, a resident of the area, stated that this was the fourth time the building had caught fire since 2016.

“The factories were still being run in the building despite it being declared risky. Manufacturing of plastic goods never stopped here,” he added.

Some other locals told reporters that a number of workers managed to escape the accident as the fire ignited when some were coming out of the building after their shift, with many others awaiting their turn.

Chawk Bazar police station Officer-in-Charge Moudud Howlader said the firefighting vehicles found it difficult to reach the scene due to the narrow lanes.

“The building was abandoned; it housed the plastic factories on the ground floor. It is believed that an electrical short circuit led to the fire,” he added.

A recent study of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) revealed that there were about 25,000 warehouses of chemical products in some 15,000 residential buildings in Old Dhaka, although the city corporation had issued licences to only 2,500.

Notably, no fewer than 16,000 incidents of fire have occurred around the country in the last 10 years till March 2019.

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