Old, faulty power connections spark increasing number of fire incidents in Chattogram

According to the Fire Service and Civil
Defence, about 50 percent of the fire incidents in 11 districts of Chattogram
Division in 2021 were caused by electrical issues.

Overload and unrepaired old lines caused
most of the incidents, officials said.

A fire caused by an electric
short-circuit killed a woman and her child at Dewan Nagar in Hathazari Upazila
on Nov 10, 2021. Four other people were injured in the incident.

Another fire from an electric line
destroyed dozens of shanties at a slum in the port city’s West Madarbari on Dec
11. One person died as he fell ill after seeing the devastative blaze, the fire
service said.

A woman in her 60s was burnt alive by a
fire at Bhandari Colony on Dec 19. The fire service said an electric
short-circuit caused the fire.

According to the fire service, 1,761
fire incidents occurred from January to the first week of December in the 11
districts of Chattogram division. They include 858 from electrical issues.

Although the power lines at homes and
businesses are supposed to be checked by experts every three months, no one
follows the rule, said Anisur Rahman, a deputy director at the fire service.

People also take unauthorised
connections, putting pressure on the main line. The overload causes the wire to
melt and catch fire, the official said.

Short-circuits are caused at homes and
businesses when the customers use air-conditioners, refrigerators and other
household equipment, putting excessive load on old lines, he said. “Some
shopping malls use connections for a certain number of lights. But they add
more light bulbs without changing the line.”   

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Dewan Samina Banu, chief engineer at
Power Development Board’s Chattogram distribution division, advised the
subscribers get their power lines and electric equipment checked regularly.
“Because the wiring gets weak over time.”

She also advised using circuit breakers
and other safety devices to avoid accidents.

Even the switches need to be changed
after the expiry date is over, she said.

“We tend to use switches year after
year, but the old ones may cause sparks.”

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