Fire swept through a garment factory owned by Tazreen Fashion in the Ashulia industrial belt near Bangladesh’ capital city in a scene reminiscent of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire which struck New York in 1911. So far, one hundred twenty-five people have been confirmed killed.
According to fire services Operations Director Maj. Mohammad Mahbub “The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor. So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building. Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower.”
As with the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, many people jumped to avoid the fire. Others got onto the roof where they were able to be rescued. Unfortunately, there were many who were trapped inside and perished in the flames.
Bangladesh’s garment manufacturers provide 80% of the worlds ready made garments including brands for Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl’s and Carrefour.
The factory claimed to have fire extinguishers, fire fighters, and fire fighting equipment on hand should a blaze happen; however, none of that materialized during the blaze. Paramilitary border guards, military units, and police had to be deployed to help keep the situation under control. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her shock at the situation as the death toll continues to rise.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has said that they will stand with the garment workers and their families.