• DC says over 20pc of the market affected, business as usual on Friday
• Interior minister asks district administration to submit report on incident
ISLAMABAD: At least 133 shops were gutted in a blaze that engulfed the capital’s weekly bazaar in H-9 on Wednesday evening, causing significant loss in its wake.
H-9 bazaar’s Assistant Director Haider Imam told Dawn that the fire started at 5:55pm when the market was closed. He said in mere two hours, the fire destroyed around 133 shops/stalls in the E and F blocks. Out of the total 133 shops, 101 shops were located in the F Block while the rest in the E Block.
There are at least 2,700 stalls in the bazaar, including 300 in blocks E and F, Mr Imam said, adding that the cause of the fire was yet to be established. He said fortunately no loss of life was reported.
Initial reports suggested the fire started in the garments section of the market and engulfed the nearby shops, including carpet shops, within minutes. Thick clouds of smoke billowed from the site of the blaze and could be seen from afar along with flames. The rescue teams rushed to the spot and managed to contain the blaze within three hours after efforts by over a dozen firefighters.
After the fire was extinguished, the police sealed the area for the night to avoid thefts of shopkeepers’ goods, according to Deputy Commissioner (DC) Irfan Nawaz Memon. He said about 20pc area of the bazaar was affected as a result of the fire. However, the bazaar will open on Friday as usual, he added.
DC Memon said a committee had been constituted to ascertain the cause of the fire at the bazaar. Besides, the committee will also give recommendations for precautionary measures to stop such incidents in the future, he added.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also took notice of the incident. He directed the district administration to prepare a report on the fire and submit it to the ministry.
Fires in Islamabad
This was the fourth incident of fire at the weekly bazaar since 2017. Out of the four incidents, three took place on Wednesday while one incident occurred on Tuesday. On August 24, 2017, a massive fire broke out in Block C which gutted around 550 stalls of garments, utensils, and nimkos, while 98 other stalls in Block H and a shoe market were also damaged.
On July 19, 2018, about 110 stalls in the E and F blocks were completely destroyed in a massive fire at the bazaar. On October 30, 2019, at least 300 stalls in blocks D, E, and H were gutted.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2022