Bailey Road fire survivors share harrowing experience

Businessman Firoz Al Mamun Faisal went to Green Cozy Cottage Building on Thursday night to buy Panjabi for his father. Just as he was paying the bills for two Panjabis he bought, Faisal sensed that the building was on fire.

Faisal hurriedly walked down the stairs from the second flood but could not come out of the building. Faisal alleged that the gate of the building was locked after the building caught fire.

Failing to leave the building, Faisal again reached the shop. The room was by then engulfed with smoke and electricity was gone. With many others, Faisal was stranded at the shop for one and half hours. Fire service officials rescued him after bringing the blaze under control. He was later admitted to Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute.

Firoz Al Mamun Faisal

This correspondent has talked to Faisal today at the burn institute. He told Prothom Alo that it became increasingly tough to breath as smoke spread everywhere. Faisal lied down on the floor and inhaled through wet clothes. At one point, Faisal left the hope to survive the inferno.

“Every second was like an hour at that time. I have a 10-month-old daughter who can only call me father. At that moment only her image came to my mind. I could not hold back tears for her,” Faisal said.

Faisal’s father kept calling him after knowing about the fire. Faisal initially did pick up the calls by his father but later talked to him and asked him to pray.

Faisal, from Manikganj’s Harirampur upazila, lives in Keraniganj with his family and owns a factory named Star Packaging.

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Another injured person named Mehedi Hasan has been undergoing treatment at the burn institute. Mehedi and wife Umme Habiba, along with a friend who came from China, went to a restaurant of Green Cozy Cottage Building at Bailey Road.

Mehedi Hasan
Prothom ALo

Mehedi said the fire broke out as soon as they started choosing food from the menu.

“I don’t want to remember the horrific incident of fire anymore,” he added.

Private university student Saad Mahmud went to a restaurant with his friends. “We tried to go downstairs using the staircase several times. The smoke engulfed the building soon after the fire. Later we could not use the stairs.”

Saad said he lost his friends when everyone in the building started running in fear.

Saad Mahmud
Prothom Alo

Saad said that around 60-70 people took shelter in the kitchen of a restaurant on the sixth floor of the building. When many left, 10 to 15 people were there. Scared, many jumped down in front of him by breaking the window.

Saad burst into tears saying that two friends died in the fire.

At least 46 people died in the massive fire that broke out in the building. Five more critically injured persons have been receiving treatment at the burn institute.

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After the incident of fire, Fire Service and Civil Defence’s director general brigadier general Md Main Uddin yesterday told journalists that the building had no fire safety measures. Three letters were sent to the building owner informing its vulnerability to fire, but no action was taken.

Meanwhile, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) said the building did not have any permission to open restaurants or shops. Despite having no approval, eight restaurants were operating in the building for years.