Updated: April 26, 2016 8:17:17 pm
The huge blaze that broke out around 11 am Sunday in neighbouring villages of Khaparpura, Patauri and Ramtol, under Hayaghat block of Bihar’s Darbhanga district, was finally doused in the small hours of Monday. By then it had flattened nearly a third of the houses — 800 of nearly 2,000 in the three villages.
While nobody died in the fire, one person, J Sureeh, 75 — whose house was gutted — died after reportedly suffering a heart attack.
On Monday, Mohan Choudhary, 48, and wife Renu Devi were rummaging through the debris, hunting for gold ornaments worth approximately Rs 80,000 they had bought for daughter Juhi’s wedding.
Best of Express Premium
Choudhary said he did not know how Juhi would get married on April 29. “In all, I lost ornaments and goods worth about Rs 2.5 lakh,” he said. The immediate relief from the government is a tarpaulin sheet and Rs 9,800 compensation to each family.
Suryakant Choudhary, a neighbour, pointed at a heap of burnt wheat and oat. “Wheat is gold here. This area is faced with either flood or drought, and leaves us with just one crop. We have saved our lives but at least 3,000 people are badly affected,” he said. More than a hundred farmers like him have lost their single yield for the year.
There is no confirmation yet on how the fire began. What is known is what locals call breakdown of the official machinery: the first fire tender reached around 6 pm — a good six hours later. Two other fire engines arrived only Monday morning.
“Almost all houses were thatched, so nothing could be saved. We could only save ourselves,” said Rajesh Ram, another villager.
🗞 Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access our in-depth reporting, explainers and opinions 🗞️