KARACHI: Three labourers were killed in a huge fire that broke out in an industrial unit in Baldia Town, officials and witnesses said on Wednesday.
One of the victims reportedly died while trying to rescue some trapped workers.
While the factory management blamed the fire brigade for a delayed response, the chief fire officer and police believed that alleged criminal negligence of the owners caused the deaths as the factory was built “like a prison” without any fire exit purportedly to prevent thefts.
The workers told the media that the blaze erupted in the ground floor and rapidly engulfed three other floors of the Al-Makkah Fabrics building.
The police said threads were kept in the factory which acted like chemicals in the rapid spread of the fire.
A worker claimed the fire erupted at 11pm on Tuesday and the owner informed the fire brigade at about 11:30pm but fire tenders reached the place at 1am on Wednesday.
The factory owner, identified as Imran, told the media that casualties might have been prevented if fire tenders arrived on time. He conceded that the building was covered with walls to prevent thefts.
‘Factory looked like prison’
Chief Fire Officer Mobin Ahmed rejected the allegation of a delay and said there was no emergency exit in the building.
Madina Colony SHO Saleem Rind also corroborated the views of the fire official.
He told Dawn the three-storey factory spread over 600 square yards looked like a prison with huge walls and only one gate.
The area SHO said even windows were covered with iron grills to the extent that even a small bird like sparrow could not enter.
He opined that even if the grills were broken, the firemen couldn’t have recovered those trapped inside. He said legal proceedings would be initiated against the factory owners over criminal negligence and loss of human lives.
He said relatives took away two bodies for burial to Rahim Yar Khan while the third victim was buried in Saeedabad.
The police were waiting for the relatives to lodge an FIR.
The victims were identified as Ali Sher Hyderi, Mohammed Kazim, 21, and Fayaz, 20.
Hyderi’s father Saleem told the media that his son had managed to come out of the factory, but he went inside again to save his co-workers. He said he died while trying to save two other workers.
A fire officer said the blaze was controlled at 8am on Wednesday by five fire tenders.
He added one fireman was also injured during the rescue operation.
The exact cause of the fire and estimation of financial loss could not be known till late in the night.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2021