After the massive blaze that burnt Dhaka’s Bangabazar, the fire service said it had warned traders of fire hazards four years ago.
Despite several notices on the matter, they did not take the necessary precautions, Brig Gen Md Main Uddin, director general of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, said on Tuesday.
The fire at the market started early on Tuesday morning. Fifty fire service units, with support from the army and the air force, managed to bring the blaze under control at 12:36 pm, some six-and-a-half hours later.
The Bangabazar market, the Mahanagar Market, the Adarsha Market, and the Gulistan Market were completely gutted by the flames. Nearby buildings, like the Anexco Tower, were damaged too.
Brig Gen Main Uddin said he was at the scene from the beginning to supervise the firefighting efforts.
“In 2019, we hung a notice stating that Bangamarket was a fire hazard,” he told the media at the scene. “Still, they continued to conduct their business. Other organisations did not pay attention either.”
Asked how the fire started, he said, “We can’t say at this moment. A five-member committee has been formed to probe the incident. We will learn the cause after an investigation report is submitted.”
Asked to explain the long time it took to bring the flames under control, the fire service chief said, “There was a lot of wind, so it took longer.”
Main Uddin also expressed his disappointment at the attack on the fire service headquarters near the market even as firefighters were ‘trying to save lives’.
“We are very sad and shocked at such a widespread disaster, but I am also shocked for another reason,” he said.
“The fire service has always given their lives for the service of the public. We don’t just put out fires, we sacrifice our lives to serve the people. But today some people entered our headquarters and vandalised my vehicle, they vandalised the new building at the headquarters. I am very disappointed.”
“Due to the obstructions from the public, firefighting efforts were hampered,” the director general said at a briefing after the blaze was brought under control. “Eight fire service personnel were injured in the attack by the public and while trying to douse the flames.”
“Two of them suffered burn injuries and have been admitted to the Sheikh Hasina Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute. They are in critical condition.”