At least 128 shops were gutted in a fire that swept through three markets in Dhaka’s Khilgaon area early today.
The fire, which originated at the Khilgaon City Corporation Kitchen Market, was doused at around 5:35am, over two hours after it broke out, Lima Khanam, duty officer of Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters, told The Daily Star.
On information, 16 units of firefighters were engaged on the spot to douse the blaze, she said.
Earlier in the day, she initially said that a total of 25 shops were damaged by the fire, adding that “further details about the losses and the origin of the fire can be known after investigation”.
Abu Musa, 35, a fireman, sustained minor injuries while he was trying to douse the fire, Lima added.
“The fire first broke out at the kitchen market and later engulfed the adjacent markets around 3:00am,” said Abul Kalam Mollah, a businessman, whose shops were gutted in the blaze.
“After being informed, I along with my son Forhad, 22, quickly reached the spot and attempted to recover goods from my two shops, but I lost goods worth over Tk 20 lakh stored in the shops for sale ahead of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr,” he told The Daily Star.
A hardware businessman, Sanaullah, said he also rushed to his shop immediately after he was informed about the fire but found that his goods had turned to ashes.
Moskhed Ali Sarder, secretary of Khilgaon City Corporation Kitchen Market, said that a total of 92 shops were gutted out of 837 shops at their market and 36 more shops were damaged at the adjacent Pubali Shopping Center and Khilgaon Uttara Market.
When asked about the probable reason behind the incident, he said that the incident may have been a pre-planned one to create disorder as there were some similar incidents in the capital in the last few weeks.
He demanded proper investigation by the police into the incident.
Shafiqul Islam, officer-in-charge of Shahjahanpur Police Station, said that the fire seemed to have originated from electric short-circuit.
“We are yet to get any official complaint about any kind of criminal activity behind the fire but we would investigate the incident thoroughly,” he said.
The Khilgaon fire incident comes just days after a huge fire at the Gulshan-1 DNCC kitchen market in which at least 200 shops were completely gutted, and the Banani FR Tower fire which claimed 26 lives.
A month before that, a devastating fire ripped through Old Dhaka’s Chawkbazar area on February 20, leaving 70 people dead.
The Chawkbazar fire, which sparked from a chemical warehouse, is the second deadliest chemical-fuelled fire incident in the country after the Nimtoli fire incident that had killed 124 people and injured many others on June 3, 2010.
Fire incidents at the city’s burgeoning skyscrapers are nothing new. Cramped buildings, narrow alleyways, lack of fire security kits, inadequate fire exits in the skyscrapers are often considered a recipe for disasters.