Baglung has only one fire engine and that too is defunctThe residents of Baglung bazaar, the district headquarters, have been demanding authorities to bring in more fire trucks but their requests have not been heard.
On Tuesday night, there was a huge fire at Ashmita Cotton Industry in Ward No. 4 of Baglung Municipality. By the time the only fire truck in the district arrived, properties worth around Rs1million had already been burnt to the ground.
The residents of Baglung bazaar, the district headquarters, have been demanding authorities to bring in more fire trucks but no aid has come forth from the authorities.
The only fire engine in Baglung district, which was brought six years ago for Baglung Municipality, is not fully functional, locals say.
“The fire engine is always in need of repair,” said Ram Sharma, a local resident of Baglung bazaar. “In the last fiscal year, the municipality spent Rs 600,000 to repair the fire engine and Rs 400,000 on fuels for the vehicle. But when a fire breaks out, the vehicle doesn’t work.”
Laxmi Baskota, another resident of Baglung Municipality Ward No. 3, says the municipality, despite having a fire truck, is yet to hire skilled firefighters.
“When a fire breaks out, there are no firefighters or a fire engine ready. The locals have to use buckets of water to fight fire,” Baskota said.
Shiva Prasad Rijal, chief administrative officer of the municipality, said the water spraying system in the fire engine is defunct. “The fire engine does not work properly and we have only one driver that knows how to handle the vehicle.”
The municipality also has no parking space for the fire engine. Until last fiscal year, the vehicle was kept on the premises of the District Police Office in Baglung. But now, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it is being kept on the roadside. The District Police Office has built a quarantine facility in the space where the fire engine used to be parked.
Some parts of the fire engine have also been stolen due to the negligence of authorities, locals say.
“We are searching for a safer spot to park the fire engine. The municipality has no land. Due to a lack of space in office premises, we have to leave the garbage collection vehicle, fire engine and other government vehicles along the roadside,” Rijal said.
Also, the fire engine can only run on major road sections and cannot enter most settlements in Baglung bazaar due to narrow roads, said Arjun Ghimire, a member of Ward No. 2 in the municipality.