KATHMANDU, Feb 22: Nirmal Shrestha, 17, an 11th grader at Bishwa Niketan Higher Secondary School, Tripureshwar, is yet to come to terms with the loss after the house his family rented was engulfed in the fire that broke out Tuesday morning.
All his belongings including, books, computer, cell phone and school uniform were destroyed in the fire. “My parents had bought me a computer. That was also burnt in the fire,” he said.
Shrestha´s mother Niru, 35, who runs a tea-shop at Indrachowk, said all their property was destroyed in the fire. “We have been rendered penniless. Everything we owned has burnt to cinders,” she said. “My dream of providing good education to my children has shattered.”
The 300-year-old house at Paltanchowk, Balkumari Ason, rented by Shrestha family for the last five years is merely a kilometer away from the Kathmandu Fire Brigade.
Lack of coordination between fire fighters and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has been attributed to the massive damage. “We waited for more than 15 minutes for NEA to disconnect power, but by then the fire was already beyond control,” said Bashudev Hengeju, a fire fighter.
The house which caught fire was in a narrow alley making it more difficult for the firefighters to take the fire under control.
Police said the fire broke out after an electric short circuit in Paltan Restaurant on the first floor.
“Fire spread after a gas cylinder exploded,” Hengeju added. According to him, Nepal Police (NP), Armed Police Force (APF), Nepal Army (NA) personnel and fire fighters struggled for more than six hours to bring the fire under control.
Fire engines from Kathmandu Fire Brigade, Bhaktapur Fire Brigade and tankers of the Nepal Army were used to douse the fire.
Shrestha´s father, a driver with a private company, is out of the Valley and will only return on Thursday. Both Shrestha and his mother said they have not eaten anything since morning.
“We don´t have any money, everything was burnt in the fire,” she said. “We can earn money but it had taken a long time for us to earn what we had,” she added. The landlord lives in the USA.