Hundreds Homeless After Fire Ravages Village on Rangoon’s Outskirts

By Zue Zue 18 February 2015

RANGOON — More than 800 residents are homeless and struggling to put their lives back together after a fire in Kyee Myin Daing Township on the outskirts of Rangoon ravaged the village of Ba Lote Nyunt on Monday.

Most of the villagers derive their livelihoods from working odd jobs that don’t afford them sufficient incomes to quickly rebuild their homes, fire victims told The Irrawaddy.

“At present, we are clearing the land razed by the fire. We’ll distribute the donations equally,” said Kyee Myin Daing Township administrator Tin Kyaw Win, referring to charitable giving in the form of food, cash and other supplies.

“We are responsible for rehabilitating. We’ll take action in coordination with ward administrative members. We’ll report to the government,” he said.

Fire victim Hla Hla Win, 42, told The Irrawaddy: “It is not difficult for us to survive on just 1,000 or 2,000 kyats (US$1-2) a day. But my house was completely destroyed and it is quite hard for me to rebuild it.”

A temporary relief camp for the fire victims has been set up at the village monastery, but crowded conditions are a health concern in the medium to long term, said a nurse.

Sayadaw U Thumana from the monastery told The Irrawaddy: “For the time being, donors are mostly providing food. There are only a few cash contributors. They [fire victims] have financial difficulties to rebuild their houses.”

Over 100 well-wishers had donated food, clothing and other supplies to the relief camp as of Tuesday, said volunteers helping to care for the displaced.

There were no fatalities resulting from the blaze, and only a few minor injuries.

According to Rangoon Division Fire Services Department, a total of 247 households were affected by the fire, about 167 of which were reduced to ash. Losses are estimated at about 23.9 million kyats, according to the fire department.

Department officials said a fire first broke out in the kitchen of a homeowner and quickly spread, aided by the close proximity of homes in Ba Lote Nyunt.

The village’s streets were too narrow to accommodate fire engines, according to Sayadaw U Thumana.

Kyee Myin Daing Township is one of three townships on the western bank of the Rangoon River that had been slated for a city expansion plan. The $8 billion project has since been shelved after a backlash over opaque tendering procedures and a lack of public input.