Three people were killed and at least one was injured after a fire broke out in a multi-storey commercial-cum-residential building located near Ayesha Manzil in Karachi’s Federal B Area on Wednesday, officials said.
Footage aired on television showed black smoke billowing into the sky as flames engulfed the structure. Firefighters could also be seen attempting to douse the bright orange flames.
Dawn News reported that the fire had damaged vehicles parked near the building while there was also a traffic jam in the area.
The incident comes just days after 11 people were killed when a huge fire ripped through a six-storey commercial building in the city’s Gulistan-i-Jauhar area.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab said that a “third dead body” had been found. He had earlier said that he had been informed of “two casualties”, adding that he was present at the site.
In an earlier post, Wahab had said two people with “severe burn injuries” had been moved to Civil Hospital. It was not immediately clear if the deceased included those who were injured.
Dr Abid Shaikh, head of Sindh Rescue 1122, also confirmed to Dawn.com that three dead bodies had been recovered from the building, adding that they were all male. However, he said that one other person had been injured.
The rescue official said that the six-storey building comprised two commercial floors (ground and mezzanine) while the remaining four were residential.
He said the fire had originated from the commercial floors where shops selling “foam” were mostly located. Shaikh said the fire had not yet been doused, adding that it would take some time to control it.
Police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed said three bodies were brought to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital to fulfil legal formalities. She said the one body was beyond recognition.
Speaking to Geo News earlier, Shaikh had termed the blaze a “third-category fire”.
“The whole building was in the grip of the flames,” he said, adding that the building had a ground floor, a mezzanine floor and four more residential floors.
Fire brigade department official Humayun Khan told Geo News that the fire had spread from the ground floor “all the way to the fourth floor”.
The spokesperson for K-Electric (KE) said that power was cut off for safety reasons after the utility was informed about the fire. He said the K-E staff was at the scene to provide full support to rescue officials.
‘It happened in seconds’
Waheed, a shopkeeper who was present when the fire erupted, told Geo News that people had started running when they saw the smoke.
“It happened in seconds,” he said. He said that the fire had erupted at the mattress shops located at the front of the building.
A female resident of the building, identified as Almas Talha, told Geo News that the guards had escorted her family to safety. She said that there was a lot of smoke and the residents had been barred from going near the building.
She said she was offering prayers when she went to her balcony and witnessed the commotion. She also heard calls for evacuating the burning building.
She said the building was safely evacuated in a timely manner because of the guards. “All residents have come out” of the building, she said.
Sindh governor laments state of affairs
Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori expressed dismay at the state of affairs in the city. “Today, there will be losses worth millions due to this fire and the people living in this city will bear them,” he said while speaking to Geo News.
He said that officials always traded blame for such incidents while the people had to suffer. He called on the Karachi mayor to fix responsibility and find out who was responsible. He said that he should talk about this in a press conference in three days.
“But how can it happen that we keep trading blame and the residents keep bearing their losses,” he said. He further said that he was on his way to visit the scene of the fire even though it did not fall within his domain.
Sindh CM orders inquiry
Meanwhile, Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar ordered a probe into the fire.
A statement issued by his spokesperson said that the inquiry committee would be led by the Karachi commissioner.
“The committee will probe the cause of the fire and the negligence of officials,” the spokesperson said.
He added that the committee would submit its report and its recommendations to the chief minister within three days.