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Thursday December 09, 2021

35 shops at Cooperative Market near Regal gutted by fire

November 15, 2021
35 shops at Cooperative Market near Regal gutted by fire

As many as three dozen shops were gutted by a Category III fire that mysteriously broke out on Sunday evening at the Cooperative Market near Regal Chowk in the Saddar area of Karachi.

No loss of life was reported in the fire, the actual cause of which is yet to be ascertained. The fire apparently broke out at one of the shops and quickly spread to other shops in the market. Upon receiving the information, two fire tenders were immediately dispatched to douse the flames but as they were not enough to control the blaze, more fire tenders had to be sent to the market.

There are around 350 garments shops in the market and the fire caused damage to at least 35 of them. The intensity of the fire was so severe that fire tenders from the Pakistan Navy and Karachi Port Trust were also called to help the KMC’s firefighters extinguish the flames.

It took two hours for the firefighters to douse the fire and the cooling process was under way till this news story was filed in the late hours of Sunday. As the blaze erupted, shopkeepers started trying to save the items in their shops but most of them were unable to do so due to heavy smoke quickly spreading everywhere.

The shopkeepers also staged a protest against the incident and blamed the KMC’s fire brigade department for their losses, stating that the fire tenders arrived late and when they initially tried to contact the fire brigade department and police, nobody responded.

The protesting traders claimed that the fire had caused damage to several shops before the arrival of the fire brigade. They also surrounded Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Administrator Murtaza Wahab when he arrived at the market to monitor the situation.

They asked the KMC administrator to compensate them as the fire had caused major losses to them due to the late arrival of the fire brigade. “Even the fire brigade department did not have foam to douse the flames,” they claimed.

The affected shopkeepers said that the fire erupted on the ground floor and quickly engulfed the first floor. They said the fire tenders arrived one hour after the fire broke out and their losses could have been prevented if the firefighters had arrived timely.

The fire brigade department, however, said fire tenders were immediately despatched to the market after it received information about the fire. It added that a total of 10 fire tenders, including a snorkel, participated in the extinguishing work.

KMC Chief Fire Officer Mobin Ahmed told the media that it was a Category III fire. “There are over 350 garments shops in the market and only 35 of them were gutted by the fire and we saved the remaining shops,” he explained. “It is yet to be ascertained whether the market has proper fire extinguishing equipment or not.”

Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon also visited the market. Responding to a query, he said there were some reports claiming that the fire broke out after some kind of explosion but those claims were yet to be verified.

A heavy contingent of law enforcers was also present during the extinguishing work. People were evacuated from the area and the roads leading to and from the Cooperative Market were blocked.

Police officials said it was premature to say anything about the cause of the fire. They added that they would inquire into the fire to ascertain if there was any criminal act behind it.