An investigation is under way to ascertain the cause of the fire that had erupted at the Cooperative Market situated on Abdullah Haroon Road in Saddar on November 14.
A police official privy to the investigation said that so far they have not found any criminal act in the incident, but they are seeking assistance from experts. He said K-Electric and the forensic laboratory of the University of Karachi have been asked to send their teams for detailed inspections of the market, adding that samples collected from the market have also been sent to the laboratory.
Meanwhile, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) fire brigade department is yet to release its final report on the incident, which had destroyed the market’s ground floor and gutted 80 per cent of the shops on the first floor. Police are also recording the statements of the affected shopkeepers.
As many as three dozen shops were gutted by a Category III fire that mysteriously broke out in the evening of November 14 at the Cooperative Market near Regal Chowk in the Saddar area of Karachi.
No loss of life was reported in the fire, which apparently broke out at one of the shops and quickly spread to other shops in the market.
Upon receiving information of the incident, two fire engines were immediately despatched to douse the flames, but as they were not enough to control the blaze, more of them 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 engines from the Pakistan Navy and the 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. 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 held a protest against the incident and blamed the KMC’s fire brigade department for their losses, saying that the fire tenders arrived late, and that when they initially tried to contact the fire brigade department and the 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 KMC Administrator Murtaza Wahab when he arrived at the market to monitor the situation.
They asked him to compensate them because 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 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 engines were immediately despatched to the market after it received information about the fire. It said 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, as we saved the remaining shops.”
Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon also visited the market. 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.
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