AURAHI (SIRAHA), May 15: Around 3,000 houses and cattle sheds of around 1,000 families were gutted in a fire at Aurahi Village Development Committee (VDC) of Siraha Tuesday afternoon.
Bharat Sah, a three-month-old child, was killed while five others including three women and two kids were injured in the fire that wiped out ward Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 and almost half of the houses of ward Nos 1 and 9 of the VDC.
The injured have been taken to the district hospital for treatment.
The locals of Aurahi, who had gone to help fight the fire in neighboring Shivanagar around 10 kilometers in the north on April 28, themselves have suffered from the fire even as the neighbors are waiting for relief materials. Chairman of Nepal Red Cross Society, Siraha Raj Dev Yadav said around 11,000 persons in the VDC have been rendered homeless and are staying in the paddy fields under the open sky.
The people of the VDC known as the village of the landlords now have nothing to eat and are also facing scarcity of drinking water. Locals said each of the family had a stock of around 10 quintals of rice, wheat and paddy.
“We could not take out anything and everything, including food grains, clothes, cash and jewelry have been gutted,” rued Santosh Yadav of Aurahi-3. “The thatched huts have been totally destroyed while the concrete houses also have been damaged,” Santosh added.
The fire had started from the kitchen of one Nathuni Yadav’s house in ward No 1 at around 2:30 in the afternoon. Nathuni’s house is in the western part of the ward and strong winds spread the fire rapidly to the eastern part of the VDC. Thousands from the neighboring villages of Bariyarpati, Tenuwapati, Shivanagar, Daraihya and others reached the village immediately after the news of the fire but they had to remain mere spectators.
“A house was gutted in just a minute and there was no way we could fight it with buckets of water,” Bechan Yadav said. Dev Narayan Yadav said even the hut on the bank of a big pond in the center of the village could not be saved due to the intensity of the fire.
Teams of Nepal Army, Armed Police Force (APF) and Nepal Police were mobilized in the area around 30 kilometers south west of Lahan but strong gusts of wind foiled their efforts to fight the fire.
Locals said the situation worsened also because the fire engines arrived late. Fire truck from Lahan reached at around four while that from Rajbiraj arrived over an hour later. The engines could not save any houses that had caught fire but prevented it from spreading to the other houses.
The firefighters said the two engines would take around seven days to control the fire and urged the local administration to bring in more fire trucks.
Police said over three dozen cattle were killed in the fire. The fire had engulfed the whole of Aurahi VDC spread over a stretch of around three kilometers and clouds of smoke covered the area as far as 10 kilometers away.
Chief District Officer (CDO) of Siraha Dhurba Prasad Dhakal said it would take around a week to collect details of the material losses and names of the victims but police estimated the loss at around hundreds of millions. CDO Dhakal said the fire is yet to be fully taken under control.