Three arrested for criticising fire brigade

Mar 24, 2008 (DVB), Two civilians and a monk were arrested in Rangoon on Friday for criticising the performance of the fire brigade during a blaze in Lanmadaw township, bystanders said.

A resident of Lanmadaw township in downtown Rangoon said the fire was caused by a power surge in a mattress shop on the ground floor of 165 Lanmadaw Street.

He said the fire broke out at around 8pm on Friday and lasted until about 11pm, destroying three rooms including the shop.

"The fire started when a florescent light stick in the mattress shop exploded due to a power surge," said the Lanmadaw resident.

"It lasted for about three hours and left the mattress shop and two adjoining halls destroyed."

More than 10 fire engines arrived on the scene not long after the fire started, but only one of them was seen fighting the fire, the resident said.

"A lot of fire trucks arrived at the place but only one of them actually worked until the fire was completely put out," he said.

"At first, there were two others spraying water over the building but they broke down within a short time."

The resident said that about 10 other engines were driving up and down the street but did not do anything to tackle the fire.

Bystanders were disappointed with the fire brigade’s poor performance, and started criticizing the officials, which led to an argument after which two civilians and a monk were arrested.

"Bystanders grew impatient with the fire brigade officials and started shouting questions to them asking why they were not doing their job," he said.

"Finally, a monk and two civilians were arrested by the officials for telling them they should use more fire engines to control the blaze."

Heavy military and police security was also deployed to the scene shortly after the fire started to control the crowd of bystanders.

"There were about 200 soldiers and 400 riot police officials, all fully armed, who arrived at the scene and kept the crowd under their watchful eyes," the resident said.

Rangoon’s central fire brigade was unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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