The fire broke out in the early hours of yesterday at Adarshanagar area of the slum and raged on for two hours burning down 111 homes before it could be doused, said an official of Brac urban development project.
Around 1:10am an announcement was made from the Chowdhurypara Mosque of the slum. The Fire Service rushed to the spot around 1:30am.
It took seventeen fire service units two hours to bring the fire under control around 2am, said Fire Service Control Room Official Mahmudul Hoque.
Victims of the fire claim that several outsiders broke into their homes and looted their valuables.
Salma, the owner of a computer shop in the slum, said during the frantic rush to get out of the slum someone broke into her shop and stole the only computer she owned.
Another resident, Shilpi Akhter said she locked the doors of her home before she ran for shelter came back to find the door unlocked and her room ransacked.
Many other residents claimed their cellphones were pick pocketed during the fire.
Jasim Uddin said the fire broke out inside the Brac school in the slum. Salma said she heard a big explosion from near the Brac school and saw a blue fire there.
“Very soon the fire engulfed the whole area.”
Jasim alleged that drug addicts regularly broke into the school to use drugs there. However, Brac school programme officials said they were unaware of that fact.
Brac school official Rokonuzzaman said the school was locked after hours and the local parents committee also provided security for the building.
Local Councilor Md Nasir also took this view.
But a resident asking not to be named claimed that sometimes powerful factions set fire to the slum in a bid to grab the land.
Several residents alleged that a racket controlled by a criminal godfather named Akhter Mia, who is currently in jail, was involved with the fire.
“Sometimes these fires are set to grab property in the slum. The powerful shanty owners take over the shanties owned by others and the previous owners lose everything and become tenants at the slum or leave,” one resident said.
This is the second slum fire this month in Dhaka. Parts of the nearby Korail slum burned down on December 4, gutting 500 houses. The victims there have also alleged that it was an arson intended to scare them out of the slum.
Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Annisul Huq visited the spot around 12:30 am yesterday and assured of assistance and rehabilitation for the victims.
Besides, Brac supplied some utensils to the victims yesterday afternoon and they will sit with Mayor Annisul around 11am today to discuss a rehabilitation process, said Hasina Mushrofa.
They were arranging cloth tents for the victims so that they would not be living under the sky during night, said Brac School programme Manager Tamzidul Islam.
Banani police station Inspector (Investigation) Waheduzzaman told the Dhaka Tribune that they had deployed police there and investigating into the matter.