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300 huts in Karachi destroyed in ‘mysterious’ fire

Updated January 21, 2019

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Some trunks still on fire in Federal B Area, where around 300 huts were destroyed on Sunday, belie the fire brigade claim that they had put out the blaze after hours of an operation. — White Star
Some trunks still on fire in Federal B Area, where around 300 huts were destroyed on Sunday, belie the fire brigade claim that they had put out the blaze after hours of an operation. — White Star

KARACHI: A huge fire erupted in Federal B Area Block-9 on Sunday morning destroyed around 300 huts set up there, said Jauhar­abad police and Fire Brigade officials. No one was injured in the incident.

Around half a dozen fire engines put out the raging fire after hectic efforts lasting over several hours, officials claimed.

The fire department and the police ruled out the possibility of any sabotage behind the incident.

However the residents claimed that a builder mafia might have set the huts on fire to vacate the place, a ‘prime land’ situated between Gulshan-i-Iqbal and FB Area.

The police claimed the fire engulfed the whole area because of delay in response by the fire officials.

A KMC fire brigade official said that they received information about the fire in the huts in Yasinabad at around 11.35am.

The fire brigade department sent six fire engines to douse the blaze and managed to control it at about 1.10pm. However, cooling work continued till 7pm.

The fire official said that around 300 huts were destroyed in the fire. There were estimated to be around 1,000-1,500 huts on ‘Dost Mohammed Goth’ near Gulshan-i-Shamim.

The fire official said that the exact cause of the fire and estimation of losses could not be made immediately.

Jauharabad SHO Tahir Husain said that the blaze erupted in a garbage dump, which spread and engulfed the nearby huts. He said the residents used to dump garbage there daily, which was being set on fire. He ruled out any possibility of sabotage and suggested that it was an accidental fire, which spread due to strong winds and destroyed the huts.

He said that the fire had erupted at around 10.30am and the fire engines reached the spot after some delay owing to which the fire spread. However, one resident Mustafa, who claimed to have established ‘Dost Mohammed Goth’ under the ‘Gothabad scheme’ told journalists that the builder mafia was ‘eyeing the prime land’.

The resident claimed that the builder mafia had also warned them to vacate the area. He demanded a proper inquiry to ascertain the exact cause of the fire.

The residents of huts told the media that they paid Rs2,500 per hut as a ‘rent’.

Mostly, beggars, labourers and vegetable and fruit sellers live there and their belongings were destroyed by the fire.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019