The Hafeez Centre fire in Lahore continued unabated on Sunday, as firefighters tried their best to battle the flames after it erupted in the morning. The fire engulfed four of the centre’s floors.
The huge fire gutted several shops and valuables worth millions.
A number of officials reached the site, including Lahore Commissioner Zulfiqar Ghuman, Deputy Commissioner Mudassir Riaz and Capital City Police Officer Umar Sheikh.
Eyewitnesses said the fire started on the second floor of the building but gradually reached to the fourth floor. CCPO Sheikh said 25 people had been rescued from the building so far and there were no reports of casualties so far.
While talking to the media, the DC said the fire has been brought under control to a “significant extent”, adding that focus was now on parts of the building still on fire.
“Workers from Rescue 1122 and fire department are present at the site and are working on putting out the fire. Snorkels are also present and all resources will be utilised,” he said, adding that he was leading the efforts himself.
Meanwhile, Lahore Commissioner Zulfiqar Ghuman has constituted a 14-member inquiry committee to look into the incident and directed it to submit a preliminary report within 24 hours. The committee comprises officials from Metropolitan
Corporation of Lahore and Rescue 1122 and will ascertain the “underlying causes of the fire incident”, determine loss of property, examine infrastructural stability as well as assess the efficacy of emergency response by the concerned department.
Rescue officials said that the initial survey suggests the fire broke out due to a short circuit, adding that a definite reason could only be given after the report was submitted.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has directed the authorities to use all resources to put out the fire.
“Priority should be given to rescuing people stuck inside [the building],” he said and directed “immediate investigation” into the incident.
Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid also reached the market on the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Bazdar. After reviewing the relief operations at Hafeez Center, Rashid sought a report from the concerned authorities.