House blaze rages as narrow street hampers fire brigade access

Published On: March 8, 2019 08:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 8: Firefighters and some police personnel struggled for over six hours to put out a fire that broke out at Makhan, a congested area near New Road where the Juddha Fire Brigade is located.

A massive fire broke out at a house on the narrow street at around at 12:30 pm Thursday. The fire brigade responded immediately and stopped the fire from spreading. But they couldn’t extinguish it completely until 5 pm. The firefighters’ struggle to contain the fire in an area near the fire brigade office and adjacent to an army barracks raises concerns over fire safety in the capital city.

“The settlement is very dense and the streets are narrow. So, we couldn’t get inside the house on fire and doused it quickly,” said Chitra Kumar Shrestha, a policeman helping to fight the fire. “That’s why it took more than five hours.” The fire trucks had to pump water onto the fire from a distance.

The fire reportedly started from an electrical short circuit and spread to LPG cylinders. Nine LPG cylinders exploded after the fire spread. 

“The explosion completely damaged the house,” said Hari Bhujel, a local of Dolakha who was a tenant in the house.

The house owners were away when the fire started. Those living in the house had to rush to the roof from where they managed to escape. “Otherwise, we could have died,” said Radhika Bhandari, another tenant who was living there with her school-going son. 

Bhujel complained that he could have saved his few belongings if the fire had been contained in time. “I have nothing left other than the clothes I’m wearing,” he lamented. 

All 10 families living in the house lost all their belongings. Most of them are day laborers. “My family is in great difficulty. My hard-earned money, food stuff, clothing and everything else was gutted,” said Dhan Bahadur Shrestha, 61, another of the fire victims. 

Old Kathmandu ‘s narrow streets make it difficult for the fire brigade to respond to fire emergencies.

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