LAHORE, July 13: A huge fire which broke out in a chemical warehouse near Delhi Gate in Naulakha on Friday evening was brought under control after hectic efforts by firefighters on Saturday morning.
Rescue 1122 personnel and police said that traders, most of them dealing in chemical business, closed down their shops while residents were evacuated after huge flames and dense smoke started arising out of a five-storey property.
Witnesses said huge flames and minor explosions sent a wave of fear among residents who left their shops and residences to avoid any untoward incident.
They said most of the people spent the night outside their homes due to fire-fighting activities.
Residents said the warehouse, where the fire erupted, had stocks of cylinders of ammonia gas and chemicals besides canisters.
DCO Naseem Sadiq, who supervised the fire-extinguishing work, told media that such illegal businesses would be shifted from outside residential localities.
Rescue 1122 spokesman Jam Sajjad Hussain told Dawn that a chain reaction among chemicals apparently led to fire which continued for about 11 hours.
He said 12 fire vehicles and more than 70 rescuers took part in the fire-fighting through a single entry and exit point. He said rescuers had reached the spot at around 7:30pm.
Hussain said that rescuers contained fire within the affected property and saved an adjacent godown which also had stocks of chemicals used in paint manufacturing.
He said though canisters of chemicals were stocked on the ground and first floor, three other floors were also partially affected in the blaze.
The spokesman said that firefighters suffered breathing problems owing to toxic smell of burning chemicals and smoke.
City SP (Operations) Jahanzaib Khan said the blaze was brought under control at around 6:30am, adding that no human loss or injury was reported.
He claimed that the Naulakha circle DSP had written to the DCO office in the recent past about the shifting of the chemical godown from the residential locality, but to no avail.
The SP said the Naulakha police booked Aamir and his brother Imran, owners of the warehouse, in a case got registered by Civil Defence Deputy Director Zahid.
A police source claimed that suspects, who were earlier taken into custody, were released on the intervention of some influential people of the locality.