‘Small’ fire damages some EVMs in EC building; probe body forms

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Dhaka, September 09: A fire that broke out at the Election Commission (EC) Building in Dhaka’s Agargaon area on Sunday night has been under control.Twelve units of firefighters brought the blaze under control after over an hour of their efforts around 12:25am, sources at Fire Service and Civil Defence control room said.

The fire has damaged some electronic voting machines (EVMs), EC sources said.

However, the NID database server is safe, according an EC official.

No casualties were reported and the reason behind the blaze could not be known immediately.

The fire originated on the ground floor of the building around 11:06pm. On information, the six fire-fighting units rushed to the spot and started working to douse the blaze. Six more units joined later.

Jane Alam Munshi, officer-in-charge of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station, said that there were Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) on the ground floor where the fire broke out.

The fire “might have damaged some EVMs”, EC NID wing Director General Brig Gen Saidul Islam said.

He ruled out any possibility of the fire damaging the NID database, which has its server on the 10th floor of the 12-storey office block.

In 2015, a fire in a building next to the Islamic Foundation in the same area disrupted NID services when the related wing was situated there. It was later moved to the new headquarters “Nirbachan Bhaban”.

Saidul said the fire was brought under control within an hour. “We don’t fear any big damage,” he said.

They initially suspect the fire originated from electric short circuit, the EC official said.

  Probe body forms

Fire Service Deputy Director Debashish Bardhan said the EC and the Fire Service have formed two committees to investigate the incident.

The three member-strong EC committee led by Additional Secretary Mokhlesur Rahman asked to submit report within  three days  while the Fire Service committee with as many members got two weeks.

There were around 4,500 EVMs in the basement, Debashish said, but added they were yet to assess the extent of the damage.

Paper cartons stored in the basement besides EVMs caused more smoke, the fire service official said.

Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar visited the building around 1:30am.

On being asked by a reporter, he said he did not know whether the fire extinguishers of the building were operational or there was any flaw in the fire safety system.

“The investigation committee will find it out,” he said.

Besides assessing the extent of damage and the origin of the fire, it will also recommend ways to prevent such incidents, he said.

The election commissioner hailed the firefighters for their efforts to control the fire “quickly”.

He said Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda was abroad but was in constant communication with officials over the incident.

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