A huge fire broke out at Chalantika slum in the capital’s Mirpur on Friday evening, rendering several hundred families homeless.
At least three people were injured in the fire that started at 7:15pm and could not be contained in three and a half hours of effort by the fire service personnel.
‘So far we could confirm that three persons were injured in the fire, which was put out at around 10:30pm by 24 units of firefighters,’ said home ministry additional secretary Tarun Kanti Shikder.
The cause of the fire and damages by it could not be ascertained immediately, he said, adding that they were hopeful that no other casualties occurred.
Slum dwellers said that at 7:15pm, they suddenly noticed bellowing smoke and fire in the midst of the slum that spans over 30 bighas of land beside the Milkvita Road in Mirpur 7 neighborhood.
As the witnesses started a hue and cry, the dwellers came out the slum with their minimal belongings, said Mohammad Selim who owned 15 shanties which were completely razed during the fire.
There were about 30,000 slum dwellers in about 10,000 shanties, slum leaders said.
Fire Service deputy director Debashish Bardhan said they responded to the fire within 10 minutes but the fire engines could not enter the slum through the narrow passages.
There were no water reservoir around the slum and waters from tanks of nearby households, WASA and city corporation were used to douse the flame, he said.
Locals said many in the slum took gas connection illegally using plastic pipes and claimed that the fire intensified after plastic pipes started burning.
Electricity connection was disconnected in the area immediately after the slum caught fire.
Dhaka North City Corporation mayor Atiqul Islam, who visited the spot around 10:30pm, said that the corporation would extend their support to the victims to address their emergency needs — food, shelter and treatment of the injured.
Home ministry’s security services division additional secretary Tarun Kanti Shikder, at 10:30pm, said that they had formed a committee to investigate into the matter.
He said that the damages would be calculated soon.
‘There would be a search operation after completely dousing the fire and only then will we be able to determine whether there was any death in the fire,’ he said.
It was the second large fire in three days as another severe fire broke out at a plastic factory in the capital’s Chawkbazar on Wednesday night.
On February 20, another fire broke out at a chemical warehouse and spread through four adjacent buildings at Chawk Bazar, causing the deaths of at least 70 people.