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Soldiers stand guard at site of municipal housing blaze

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Soldiers of the 90th Brigade based in Rangoon Division are guarding the site of a blaze at municipal staff housing that broke out on Tuesday and tore through the mostly wooden structures in Insein Township, a witness said.

insein-fireAfter starting in the early evening in tenant Kyee Sein’s room, the fire swept through three six-room wooden apartment buildings and about 20 of the 300 huts adjacent to the complex on Thitsa Wardy Street in Aung San Ward. A lawsuit had been filed in absentia against the tenant under section 285/2010 of the Penal Code, sources said.

He remained at large and the cause of the fire was still unknown, a fire official said.

More than 50 troops had set up camp near Kan Oo Monastery, where about 155 residents of the huts gutted in the blaze have taken refuge, the witness said. The narrow streets nearby around Aung San Market were very crowded with passers-by at 5 p.m. today but the soldiers kept people away from the ruins.

Area residents had donated 10 bags of rice to the monastery for those affected, victims of the fire said.

One person made homeless, Khin Thwe, a mother of three, described the impact the speed and shock of the blaze had on her and an almost fatal moment of hesitation.

“I am a fish seller in Aung San Market. When I saw plumes of smoke from the municipal staffs’ apartment blocks, I shouted ‘Fire! Fire!’ and felt panicked, so much so that I forgot that my children were at home,” Khin Thwe, a mother of three, said.

“I came to my senses when a neighbour shook me … I ran to my house to get them out of there. The fire was spreading fast and our house was near one of the blazing apartments. I carried the TV and took the children to a safe place,” she said. “But I left my gold necklace behind. Someone told me it wouldn’t be damaged in the fire and that I’d be able to get it back but only one person per family was allowed to go back to the site. So, my husband returned but couldn’t find the necklace.”

The municipality housing tenants had sought refuge at the Government Technical Institute in Insein, one of the residents said.

“We don’t know where we will be transferred. We’ve not received anything except packets of rice and curry donated by nearby wards”, a victim said. “But, the victims who are municipality staff and their families got everything they needed.”

Forty of the residents camped at the monastery were students, a member of the Red Cross Society, who works at the monastery, said.

“Teachers visited the grieving students to offer comfort and collected lists of the victims who are students”, a parent said.

There are 25 wards in Insein Township, the residents of which had also donated packets of rice, blankets and snacks for the victims.

The Rangoon Division Fire Department estimated total loss at about 20 million Kyat (about US$20,000), but the municipality said the total loss seemed slight.

The value of a hut destroyed in the fire was about 1 million Kyat (about US$1,000), putting the total value of the gutted huts at more than 20 million Kyat, a senior fire official said.

“We heard that the Mayor of Rangoon would arrange to provide anything that the grieving victims who are staff of the municipality and their families needed. And he promised to arrange compensation for us”, said one such staff member.

There were about 90 cases of fire in Rangoon Division in this year and the total value of damage was about 21 billion Kyat (about US$21 million), according to combined figures from fire departments in Rangoon Division.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 August 2010 23:27 )  

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