The fire-destroyed settlement at ward 11 of Barahakshetra Municipality in Sunsari district pictured on Sunday. A massive fire gutted 70 homes belonging to 46 families on Saturday night. There are no casualties.
ITAHARI, March 19: On Saturday evening, Renu Sardar, 25 of Barahakshetra Municipality in Sunsari had just gone to bed clutching her three-month-old daughter and a year-and-a-half-old son when she heard screams outside. Carrying both the children, Renu came out of her home and saw a massive blaze in front of her. “I scurried toward the eastern part of the settlement,” said Renu staring at her fire-destroyed home on Sunday morning.
Despite losing all the property in the fire, Renu is happy that she was able to save the children and herself. Her husband Krishna is currently in Kathmandu for employment. The fire had reportedly started from the house of local Puran Chaudhary. While some suspect electrical short circuit for the inferno, others said that the fire had started from the kitchen. But the exact cause has yet to be ascertained as none of the members of Chaudhary’s family are in contact.
The fire destroyed around 70 huts belonging to 46 families in the settlement, police said. Eighteen heads of cattle and property worth around Rs 10.3 million were also gutted, according to police. The fire was brough under control at around 11:30 pm. Fire engines from Inaruwa, Itahari, Dharan, Biratnagar and Duhabi had arrived to tackle the inferno.
Most of the families here are daily-wage workers.
Although police had reached the settlement immediately after the fire started, the fire engines were late. The whole settlement had been reduced to cinders when the fire engines arrived.
“The fire started spreading at around 8:30 pm but the first fire engine arrived only at 9:30 pm and others came later,” said fire victim Imananda Chaudhary, who was found salvaging half-burnt rice grains at her fire-destroyed home on Sunday morning.
According to him, no one dared to douse the fire fearing for their own lives. “We could hear the explosions of cooking gas cylinders but could do nothing,” said Shankar Thapa, inspector of the Armed Police Force Base Camp, Shreepur.
“We have nothing left after the fire,” said Bhutanidevi Sardar, a victim.
Meanwhile, Prabhu Sardar, 41 of Koshi Rural Municipality-3 sustained injuries while trying to douse the fire. He has been taken to Nobel Hospital of Biratnagar for treatment.
Barahakshetra Municipality had offered meal to the fire victims on Sunday morning, according to Kedar Bista, chairman of ward 3. “We have requested social organizations to provide food to the victims for a few days,” said ward chief Bista. District Disaster Relief Committee has provided Rs 5,000 per victim family as immediate relief. Likewise, the Nepal Red Cross Society has provided tents, instant noodles, beaten rice, utensils and drinking water to all victims families.