|Fire fighters struggle to contain a blaze at a plastics factory in Dawbon township, Yangon, on February 24.
DRY weather has led to an increase in fires throughout the country in the first two months of 2009, said fire brigade officials last week.
This follows a year in which nearly 800 fires nationwide killed 28 people and injured 52 others, at a cost of more than K3945.75 million, according to government statistics for 2008. During that year, more than 5000 houses, 15 factories and workshops and 30 warehouses were burnt down, leaving 17,086 victims homeless.
In January, 96 fires broke out nationwide, with the largest number occurring in Mandalay Division, followed by Yangon Division and Sagaing Division.
A blaze broke out at a plastics factory in Dawbon township, Yangon, at about 1pm on February 24, starting from a high-voltage regulator by a generator, said a brigade spokesman in Yangon Division last week.
The fire completely destroyed two blocks of two-storey hostels for factory workers but no causalities occurred and the factory building escaped damage, said U Aung Kyaw Myint, the chief commander of the Fire Brigade Department of Yangon Division.
The Fire Brigade, with 29 fire engines, six official vehicles, 162 fire fighters and 130 reserve members, managed to put the fire out in little more than an hour, he said.
In Mandalay, a big fire on February 9 caused by the refuelling of a motorcycle while the engine was on, burnt down 320 homes and left 1619 people homeless.
A report said the motorcycle fire spread to a private fuel shop nearby and the living quarters successively, in Mya Nandar ward of Chan Mya Thar Si township.
In 90 minutes, 320 homes, including 26 wooden houses and 294 bamboo huts, were destroyed, reportedly causing damage estimated at more than K20 million.
It was difficult for the Fire Brigade to put out the fires because the wooden and bamboo houses were built too close together, and the streets were too narrow for the fire trucks to pass, said U Tin Min, the head of the Fire Brigade Department of Mandalay District.
“Four fire cases occurred in Mandalay Division while refuelling, one on February 9 in Mya Nandar ward, one in Pyi Oo Lwin township on February 14, one in Pyi Gyi Tagon on February 20 and one in Chan Mya Thar Si township on February 23,” said U Tin Min.
From February 1 to 23, a total of 23 fires occurred in Mandalay, causing one death and two injuries, and making 1639 people homeless, according to official statistics from the Fire Brigade Department.
Of the 26 fires that broke out in January in Mandalay, 21 were caused by kitchen fires and negligence, two by electrical defects and three by arson, statistics show.
Fire Brigade figures show that 171 blazes occurred in Mandalay Division in 2008, causing four deaths and 21 injuries, destroying 2050 homes and leaving 2340 people homeless.