Cash-strapped local units look helplessly as fire season arrivesA majority of local units in Rautahat are not equipped to deal with fire incidents since most of them do not have fire brigades or fire trucks.
On Sunday, 21 homes and sheds were destroyed by a fire in Bisanpurwa village, Madhav Narayan Municipality Ward 4 of Rautahat. On Monday, fire incidents were reported from Ishanath Municipality Ward 4 and Paroha Municipality Ward 3 in the district. Although there were no casualties in the fire incidents, there have been considerable property losses, say locals.
When the fire broke out in Bisanpurwa on Sunday, the locals immediately called the local administration for a fire truck, but by the time the fire truck arrived, 20 homes had already been gutted.
A majority of local units in Rautahat are not equipped to deal with fire incidents since most of them do not have fire brigades or fire trucks. Out of the 18 local units, only two—Gaur Municipality, the district headquarters and Chandrapur Municipality—have fire trucks.
Parash Bhandari, a local of Bisanpurwa, who was witness to Sunday’s fire incident, says the fire started from the home of one Jiut Mukhiya Bin and spread to other homes in the neighbourhood. “The villagers asked the local administration to send a fire truck but the truck arrived late,” he said. “The fire truck arrived two hours after the fire started. By then, the entire neighbourhood was in flames.”
According to DSP Umashankar Yadav of the district police, almost 30 houses and sheds were destroyed in fire incidents in the last two days. Approximately Rs10.16 million worth of property, valuable possessions, and cash were destroyed in two days, he said.
Following the two incidents, the locals have demanded quicker response from the local administration in emergencies and have reiterated the need for local units to purchase fire trucks.
Dharmendra Kumar Mishra, chief district officer of the district, admits the need for local units to purchase fire trucks and to have a fire brigade on standby.
“If individual local units do not have the means to buy fire trucks they can collaborate with their neighbouring local units and consolidate funds to purchase a fire truck,” said Mishra. “That way, local units farther away from Gaur and Chandrapur municipalities do not have to suffer from the delayed arrival of fire trucks. Garuda, Gadhimai, Phatuwa Bijaypur and Katahariya municipalities should coordinate with each other and make purchases because they are far away and most difficult to reach. Phatuwa Bijaypur in the west and Gadhimai in the east are the most difficult to reach in times of need.”
According to the District Police Office, 72 houses and 56 sheds were destroyed by 135 fire incidents last year. While one person died and ten others were injured, 44 heads of cattle also died and 39 were injured in the fire incidents.