Poor man’s weekly Sasta Bazaar in H-9 gutted as fire engulfs over 500 stalls

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Inquiry committee to submit report within 3 days
Zubair Qureshi

Hundreds of shops were gutted and thousands of individuals associated with minor chores went penniless as fire broke out mysteriously in Islamabad’s popular weekly bazaar located in H-9 sector here on Wednesday morning. The bazaar remains open three days a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Friday) and fortunately, being an off-day no loss of life was reported though fire caused loss of grocery and other items worth million of rupees.
The weekly bazaar was a source of huge economic activity and at a time when Eid-ul-Azha is just a few days away the incident has affected a large number of families and individuals associated with business here. According to eyewitness the fire broke out when a sweeper set some garbage to fire. The nearby cloth market caught fire at once and within no time it went out of control. It took firefighters several hours to control fire and even after 8 hours, it was not completely cooled down.
Two sections of the bazaar ‘C’ and ‘H’ were directly affected by fire. In these two sections alone 500 stalls are set up. According to the rescue workers 95pc of these shops was destroyed while 5pc of the rest of the market was damaged. In all, 15 vehicles of Islamabad’s Fire department, Rescue 1122, private companies took part in the rescue activities. According to another shopkeeper Aslam, fire broke out when a UPS battery blasted and caught fire, however, majority viewed it was due to the negligence of the sanitary worker who set garbage to fire. Islamabad’s Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz, IG Islamabad, SSP, Chief Commissioner, DC and the entire hierarchy of the district government reached the spot immediately after the news of the fire broke out. MNA from Islamabad Assad Umar also reached there. Traders of the market complained against fire brigade vehicles that reached the spot almost an hour late. “If fire brigade teams had arrived in time the intensity and volume of damage would have been far lesser,” said a trader. Islamabad sasta weekly bazaar is a refuge for the lower income groups and families of the town against the high-priced markets of the city.
Here one can get fresh fruit, vegetables on discounted rate and according to one’s choice. According to an official, 12 fire tenders and a helicopter participated in the rescue operation and it took them at least three hours to put out the fire. The smoke rising from the market could be seen several kilometers away from the site. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad has constituted an inquiry committee comprising Additional Deputy Commissioner as the head of the committee, SP Industrial Area (Member) and Director DNA of the CDA (Member). According to the notification issued here late Wednesday the committee will submit its report within 3 days. The report will also give the estimates of the loss and damage to the bazaar besides the cause of fire.

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