Aid trickles in as victims count cost of Saturday's fire
SIRAHA, April 30: A day after a massive blaze that destroyed 270 houses in Shivanagar Tole of Bariyapati, relief material is slowly trickling in to help the victims. People are also begining to count the cost of the fire and for many, it not just destroyed their houses but also their dreams as their their belongings and savings were reduced to ashes.
Suhag Devi Yadav had withdrawn Rs 100,000 from a bank at Sukhipur just three days ago to construct a new house. The money was sent by her husband who works abroad. But the money along with the old house was reduced to ashes and she spent the night under the open sky.
Ram Lochan Yadav also returned to his village just two months ago after working outside the country so he could earn some money. As the fire swept through the neighborhood he struggled to save his three children and his wife, and had no chance to salvage Rs 100,000 in cash and the goods he had brought back.
"I was resting with my three kids and my wife Bimala when I heard cries of help. I smashed the thatched wall and grabbed two kids and asked my wife to take the other child. The fire had already engulfed the whole house and we somehow managed to survive," Ram Lochan said. "We gave up trying to save our beloinging and savings believing wealth can be accumulated if one lives," he said with tears in his eyes.
Samundri Devi Yadav, 65, lost her husband last June and she lost her home on Saturday. "I cannot build a new house on my own while everything including food grains have been gutted. There is no means for survival for me now," she said trying to block the Sun by stretching a sari between two points.
Chief District Officer (CDO) Dhruba Prasad Dhakal reached the village at around one in the afternoon and distributed Rs 3,000 to each family while District Development Committee handed over Rs 1,000 each. The victims initially refused to take the money but later agreed following assurances of additional funds when more help arrived from the center.
Meanwhile, Siraha Red Cross distributed a tent, three blankets, a pot and a sari for each family while Shrinath Battalion distributed sugar, beaten rice and salt. A team of doctors of Sagarmatha Eye Hospital also arrived in the village and distributed rice, lentils and potato. The doctors are scheduled to organize a free eye camp for the victims after discovering their eyes were infected by ash and dust.
The fire reportedly started from a heap of hay at Jogan Yadav´s house at around 12:30 and spread to the densely populated area due to strong winds. It took almost five hours to bring the fire under control. Police said the fire may have started by ashes dumped near the heap of hay by Yadav´s family after cooking lunch. The fire also destroyed animal sheds of 109 families.