500 people rescued in blaze at Arshi Mall, says fire brigade report

December 09, 2023

The fire brigade department of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) on Friday released its report on the blaze that erupted at the Arshi Shopping Mall near Ayesha Manzil on Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained and the investigators have so far failed to fix the responsibility.

View of a site after fire eruption at Furniture Market as the rescue officials are busy extinguishing fire during a rescue operation in Karachi on December 6, 2023. — PPI

According to a copy of the report obtained by The News, there was a chaotic evacuation in the building and emergency alarms and evacuation signs were not present while the cause of the fire could not be determined at present.

The report noted that the information about the fire was received at 5:41pm and the fire brigade team was dispatched at 5:42pm. Two apartments on the second floor of the building suffered minor damage, while one apartment on the third floor was significantly affected by the fire.

In front of the shopping mall, 18 motorcycles and one car were completely burnt. Of the 76 apartments in the building, 73 remained unaffected by the fire. Residential buildings, banks, electronic markets and warehouses in the vicinity also remained safe, read the report. It added that all the 169 shops on the ground floor were gutted by the fire.

The fire brigade successfully rescued 500 people during the operation. No casualty was reported from the apartments; however, four bodies were recovered from the shopping mall in this incident.

The report mentioned that 12 fire tenders, two water bowsers and as many snorkels participated in the rescue operation. Electrical panel and electric meters installed in the basement along with 10 cars and 20 motorcycles parked there also remained safe.

Of the 120 warehouses and shops on the mezzanine floor, 30 were not affected by the blaze. The shops gutted on the ground floor were of mattresses, garments and wooden furniture. The fire spread upwards from the ground floor to the mezzanine floor, following with apartments on the first floor caught fire.

The fire brigade claimed that it did not receive on time the information about the fire. When two fire tenders from the Gulistan-e-Mustafa fire station reached the building at 5:42pm, it was covered with flames.

According to the report, financial losses could not be accurately estimated at this time. It said no public safety system was installed at the shopping centre and apartments, including fire safety, fighting equipment and emergency exits.

At least five people had lost their lives in the fire at the Arshi Shopping Mall on Wednesday evening. The police also registered a case on the state’s behalf at the Jauharabad police station. An investigation team has been tasked with determining the fire’s cause and fix responsibility.

This was the second major fire to have occurred in the city’s shopping malls in two weeks. Earlier, 11 people had lost their lives in a deadly fire that erupted at the RJ Shopping Mall on Rashid Minhas Road. Interestingly, the investigations in both the major cases

are under way to determine the fire’s cause and fix responsibility.