‘There was so much smoke, could hardly breathe’
Barely a month into the Chawkbazar fire incident, Dhaka witnessed yet another tragic day as a deadly fire tore through the 22-storey FR Tower in Banani yesterday.
The blaze left 25 people dead and around 100 others injured, despite frantic efforts of fire service, army, navy and air force personnel and also common people to douse the fire and rescue those trapped inside the building.
One of the survivors of the fire incident, Shejuti Daulah, finance director of DIRD Group, which has its corporate office at the FR Tower, recounted the horrific experience she went through as she managed to make it out of the fiery chamber.
“When we first tried to come down the stairs, there was so much smoke that we could hardly breathe,” Shejuti, who was on the 12th floor when the fire broke out, said.
“There was not much visibility due to the smoke so we could not figure out how many floors we had come down. At one point, we could not move any further, and then we turned around and started for the roof instead.”
“We had to keep our faces covered as we moved thorough the dense smoke and somehow managed to get to the roof.”
“Probably the top floor was going through construction work so there was no window there. We jumped to the adjacent building and then walked down its stairs to come out,” she said.
“The whole thing happened in such a hurry, and also since we have our office at several floors in the building, that we could not immediately figure out how many managed to come out and whether any of us was trapped inside.”
“After we came out on the road, we saw the fire had spread to several floors of the building and people were trapped inside. There was a lot of panic as efforts were on to save the trapped people,” Shejuti said.
“Around 30 people were trapped in the floor just beneath ours,” she recollected, adding that more people were trapped in the floors below.
“We heard the fire originated from short circuit on the 6th floor… when we came out, we saw the blaze spread to 9th floor within a short time.”
Asked if the stairs they used were adequate, she said, “It was a narrow staircase… honestly, at that moment we were not in a condition to notice much. There was so much smoke, and it was difficult to breathe… all we had in our mind was how to escape from this.”
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