LAHORE: More than 100 shops were gutted and three people suffered minor burns when a fire erupted in a four-storey plaza in Anarkali’s Gudi Bazaar which later engulfed two adjoining plazas as well on Saturday.
Four or five people fainted due to suffocation.
Started at 2am in the plaza, the massive fire engulfed the two adjoining buildings within minutes, initial reports said.
A spokesperson for the Rescue 1122 said initially the fire broke out on the third floor of the plaza which engulfed the two adjoining buildings within an hour.
Quoting initial inquiries, he said, apparently electricity loadshedding caused an explosion to the UPS battery installed in the plaza.
He said the inflammable material caught fire from the damaged battery, adding that some shops had reportedly housed more than 50,000 bottles of perfumes and sprays of different kinds.
Three people suffer minor burns
At least 21 vehicles of the Rescue 1122 took part in the fire-fighting operation and the massive fire could be brought under control after 10 hours of hectic efforts, he said.
“This can be termed the biggest fire incident in the city in terms of losses suffered by a large number of traders,” he said.
Lahore CCPO Amin Wains said the inflammable material stored in godowns of the plaza caused the massive fire.
The damaged plazas were owned by three brothers.
Tanvir Ahmad, one of the owners of plazas, told media that each building was housing at least 50 shops and godowns.
Inflammable material, including decoration paraphernalia, small firecrackers, aerosol sprays and plastic goods were stocked in the godowns of the plazas.
The huge flames and dense smoke from the plaza caused panic in the vicinity, prompting all traders to keep their shops shut.
The aggrieved traders alleged that inadequate fire management by the Rescue 1122 had caused them huge losses. They said only few vehicles of the Rescue 1122 were properly functioning which caused undue delay in controlling the blaze.
Another official of the Rescue 1122 denied the allegation saying narrow streets and roads caused some delay in commencing the operation in the affected buildings.
He alleged that traders were using upper storeys of the plaza as godowns where they stocked the inflammable material without taking any preventive measures.
Even the entire building was poorly managed for fire-fighting, he said.
About the delay in operation, he said, the firefighters responded to the call within two minutes and reached the spot timely. He said most of shops and godowns were locked which also made the task of fire-fighters difficult.
“We have controlled the fire after day-long efforts but the cooling process continued till evening,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2017