A massive fire that broke out at the Mohammadpur Krishi Market in Dhaka at around 3:40am on Thursday (14 September) has been brought under control.
It took the combined efforts of 17 Fire Service units, working in conjunction with personnel from RAB and BGB, approximately six hours to bring the flames under control by around 9:25am, confirmed fire service authorities.
The market had been flagged as risky by fire service authorities earlier this year.
"The fire service authorities received information about the fire at 3:43am. The first unit arrived on the spot at 3:52am. A total of 17 units of the fire service are working to bring the fire under control," Fire Service and Civil Defence Headquarters Warehouse Inspector (Media Cell) Md Anwarul Islam told The Business Standard.
Later, members of the Rapid Action Battalion and the Border Guard Bangladesh were deployed at the site to support rescue work and help bring the fire under control.
No casualties have been reported so far.
DMP Deputy Police Commissioner (Tejgaon Division) HM Azimul Haque stated, "The likelihood of casualties or fatalities is very low.
"Since the fire occurred during the late hours of the night, it is unlikely that people were present in the market. Moreover, even if anyone was inside, we anticipate that they managed to evacuate safely."
Meanwhile, businessmen have claimed that the slow response of the fire service contributed to the destruction of at least 300 shops in the market.
Delayed action by the fire service allowed the fire to rapidly engulf the entire area, resulting in losses amounting to several crores of taka, they said.
According to them, the fire is suspected to have originated from an electrical short circuit.
Lt Col Tajul Islam Chowdhury, director (operation and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defense, addressed the media regarding the lack of fire safety measures in the market.
He said, "There was no fire safety equipment in the market, not even a basic fire extinguisher. Furthermore, the cramped alleys and limited spaces within the market posed significant challenges for our firefighters, delaying their efforts to extinguish the fire.
"Additionally, shops had been established in such a way that it violated the market's original design."
He went on to explain, "The absence of a nearby water source and the presence of shops on footpaths and roads were the primary factors contributing to the delay in containing the fire."
Abu Kawsar, proprietor of one of the market's largest jewellery stores, revealed that he had at least Tk2 crore worth of jewellery and other valuables stored at his shop.
"My store, situated on the outer periphery of the market, was one of the largest among hundreds. It hadn't caught fire even until 4:45am. As soon as I got the news, I hurried to the market and watched helplessly as the livelihood of my family was consumed by flames," Kawsar said, with teary eyes.
Amir Hossain from Dubai Jewellers reported that the destructive fire has consumed a minimum of 20 jewellery stores.
"I consider myself fortunate that I managed to rescue some of my shop's merchandise since it remained unscathed until 4am, and I arrived promptly," he told The Business Standard.
In April of this year, following the devastating fire at Bangabazar, authorities flagged 58 Dhaka markets, including the Mohammadpur Krishi Market, as vulnerable to fire.
On 4 April, a devastating fire broke out at the Bangabazar that burned for more than three days and reduced the entire market to ashes. According to a Dhaka South City Corporation report, it burned over 3,800 shops and caused damages worth over Tk303.05 crore.
Within less than two weeks, on 16 April, another fire broke out at the capital's New Super Market ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr, which took some 27 hours to douse.
According to a Fire Service and Civil Defence report released Tuesday (12 September), 20 people were injured and eight killed in 1,667 fire incidents across the country in August this year. Of the total fire incidents, 128 occurred in Dhaka alone.