Although the fire service said that around 100 shanties and shops burned in the fire, the slum dwellers claimed that the number is closer to 150
Winter always brings misery for the slum dwellers of Dhaka.
This year, the situation is even worse. Amid this bleak weather, around 200 people of a slum in Mirpur have no roofs above their heads. Just some warm clothing and firewood are their only comfort.
These are the victims of the fire that gutted a part of the "Hirur Ma Bosti" in Kalshi area of Mirpur, Dhaka on Friday.
The fire service and civil defense officials said at least hundred shanties and shops burnt to ashes.
"The authority only measures the casualties. Luckily, we managed to survive the fire but are now starving and freezing in the cold," said Nannu Miah, one of the victims who lost his home – along with everything else he possessed – to the fire.
Children and the elderly are bearing the brunt of this recent disaster.
Two cows were also killed in the devastating fire. Their owner Nurunnahar Begum is helpless without them.
"They were not just cows or sources of income to me, they were like my children, my family members. After seeing their bodies, I cried as if my daughters died in the fire," said Nurunnahar with tears in her eyes.
The fire originated from an electric short circuit in one of the shanties.
Ershad Hossain, an operator at the Fire Service Headquarters, told The Business Standard that 11 fire brigade units rushed to the spot after the fire broke out at 12:50am on Friday.
The fire service estimated that valuables worth around Tk12 lakh were damaged in the blaze.
Local lawmaker Ilias Ali Mollah said he arranged shelter and food for the victims at a school near the slum.
"We will arrange their food until they are rehabilitated," he added.
Locals said the slum has more than 300 houses and 80 shops. As it is located just alongside a canal, most of the houses are built on the canal.
Most of the smaller houses are home to more than two residents. Most of them are rickshaw and van pullers.
Few of them are street peddlers who buy and sell old household objects and plastic products. Almost all of the people affected by the fire earn very little.
Although the fire service authority said that around 100 shanties and shops burned in the fire, the slum dwellers claimed that the number is closer to 150.
After the fire was brought under control, the victims' cries filled the night sky, as they worried about where to find shelter this winter.
"My house was at the front of the slum," said Rabiul, one of the victims. "I came out quickly when I saw the fire, but I could not bring anything else with me. I just ran for my life."
Another resident of the slum Suman said, "All is lost. Now we have to live under the sky on a rainy night. Many of us do not have warm clothes. Children are suffering the most in this winter and the rain."
Nannu Miah said he had been sleeping on the night of the fire.
"Suddenly, the shoppers started shouting. I saw a blaze and people were running. Everything I had burned in the fire. Now I do not know where to go, where to stay."
Slum residents claimed that the electricity connection was illegal.