The fire that broke out on Friday for the 3rd time at Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation (BSEC) building at Karwan Bazar in Dhaka that houses several offices including private television channels Ntv, Rtv and the online section of Amar Desh were extinguished after nearly two hours of efforts of firemen and volunteers.
The fire began around 11:48am and 21 fire-fighting units brought the flames under control at 1:56pm, Md Jibon Mia, operator at the headquarters of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, told The Daily Observer on Friday.
"There have been no casualties. The cause of the fire will be confirmed after investigation," said Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, told reporters at the spot. "The 11th floor of the building was completely gutted." Fire-fighters who worked on the spot report that the fire could have originated from short circuit in the warehouse of Amar Desh office.
About 100 fire fighters along with volunteers worked frantically to douse the flames. They used two long ladders to reach the top floors of the building. Ambulances were stationed nearby along with additional water-tank trucks.
Traffic movement was suspended on the Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue because of the fire however this did not create a serious tailback since it was a weekend.
Meanwhile, a five-member committee, headed by BSEC Director Syed Mozammel Haq, has been formed to probe the fire, said Chairman Mohammad Imtiaz.
Both Rtv and ntv went off air around 12:56pm following the incident after the main power source to the building was shut down.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu and Ntv Chairman Mosaddeque Ali Falu visited the spot. Falu said, "How can an institution progress if it is struck by fire incidents repeatedly?"
Among other offices on that floor was a law chamber belonging to Tanjib-ul-Alam and another garment accessories' office.
"The online office of Amar Desh was supposed to move to Niketan in the capital this morning. But, it was not possible because of the fire."
Abdul Hai Shikder, Senior Assistant Editor of the Amar Desh, told The Daily Observer that the fire might be a sabotage attempt. "It might also be an accident."
The warehouse contained about 150 computers and about 35 air conditioners. Amar Desh said to have had Tk 1 crore pending in rent for the office.
Abbas Ali Hawladar, a peon of Amar Desh, who along with about 12 other labourers, was engaged in office-shifting and was the last person to come out of the burning building on Friday morning.
Abbas claimed that the fire began in a locked room of the warehouse where official files, disused computers and other materials were stacked up.
What caused the blaze is yet unclear, although firemen suspect the fire originated from a store on the top floor. Bablu, employee of a law firm on the 10th floor, said they had heard a noise that had sounded like an electric short-circuit."Our security guard requested us to vacate the building seeing the fumes," he said.
On February 26, 2007, three people died and at least 50 others were injured as a devastating fire raged through the multi-storey BSEC Bhaban. Dozens of offices, including that of Ntv and Rtv, were completely gutted by the fire. Massive rescue efforts, including the first-ever airborne operation, were carried out when over 1,000 people were evacuated from the building. Earlier, another fire broke out in a room on the ground floor of the building on December 24 of the same year.