In Orissa, most of the houses are thatched with bamboo and straw. The bamboo and the strips of bamboos are tied to one another with the strings of coir. Sometimes wood is used in making such roofs. During the hot summer months, they get quite dry and become ready combustibles to catch fire at the slightest opportunity.
Cause of house-fire:
Most of the houses are gutted with fire owing to the negligence of the ladies who cook. They neglect the sparks in their hearths. These sparks get the touch of wind and so they get brighter. They catch the nearest combustible and then burn the whole house. Sometimes houses, are gutted for the negligence of the smokers who neglect their cigarette ends that they throw away burning. Sometimes, some wicked men set fire to the houses of others.
The sight of a house of fire:
A house on fire presents a horrible sight. Curls of smoke rise high in the sky. Terrible flames of fire shoot up on all sides. large pieces of roof fall down aflame with a terrible noise. The knots of dry bamboos burst up with hard strokes of sound. Burning sparks of fire are darted at all directions. The women and children of the house lie outside crying and screaming. Some people are found hurry in carrying away the valuable things from inside of the house. Some are found in drawing and carrying water in jars and buckets and throwing that water to the burning roof. Their bodies get smeared with the dark ashes of straw. The owners of the neighboring houses pour water on their roofs, so that their roofs will be saved from catching any fire. In order to check the spread of fire, some people remove straw from two or three houses. Such terrible sight of house fire are rampant in the Orissa villages during the hot months of summer.
Loss caused by house fire:
Losses, caused by house-fire, are immense in Orissa. Big settlements are burnt to ashes within a few hours. Sometimes the whole village is gutted. Piles of food grains in the barns are burnt away. All the household articles and the money saving are burnt into coal. Sometimes, costly domestic animals are burnt off. Sometimes children, too, die of this terrible scourge. In Orissa the general loss by house-fire amounts to crores and crores of rupees. The pain and sufferings of the people are beyond imagination.
Control of the house-fire:
Control of the house-fie cannot be effective. Because the house catch fire generally in the summer months when water is rare in the countryside. The Government house-fire parties cannot always be available to us or the houses may have been burnt off before the fire-brigade reaches our place.
It is true that there can be no effective check against the fire burning the house. The only effective remedy is to replace the straw-thatching by the tiles of the reliable factories or by other kinds of fire-proof sheets. Except this, there is no other way out.