Store ‘hoarded’ cooking oil in basement that caught fire: official

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Karachi’s departmental store that caught fire Wednesday morning had hoarded cooking oil in the basement which caused the fire to gain intensity and spread rapidly, an official has said.

One person was killed and three injured in the fire which had started at 11am on Wednesday in the basement of the store situated in a residential complex at the intersection of Jail Chowrangi and Kashmir Road in East district

Ferozabad Assistant Commissioner Asma Batool said due to the rising prices, the store stocked cooking oil in the basement which it used as a warehouse.She added that the fire started in the warehouse and spread across it, however, it intensified when it reached the cooking oil stock.

As the fire spread, it reached the building’s parking where three motorcycles caught fire, according to Batool.

The fire department said Saturday it had successfully put out the fire after hectic efforts across three days. The cooling process, which is underway, would take 24 hours, officials of the department added.

District East Deputy Commissioner Tariq Hussain Chandio, Saturday, visited the building which has been declared ‘unfit for human habitation’ due to significant damage to its foundation and cracks in the structure.

Chandio vowed ‘100percent’ accountability, including that of K-Electric and Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).

He added that the district administration has taken steps to prevent such accidents from happening in future.

Teams will visit commercial stores, shopping centres and private business to inspect the safety measures, Chandio said adding that businesses without adequate safety arrangements will be sealed.

On Thursday, a case was registered with the Ferozabad police station, against the owners of the departmental store for turning the basement into a warehouse in violation of the building laws.

The first information report (FIR) was registered on the complaint of SBCA District East Assistant Director Niaz Laghari.The FIR stated that the basement of the subject building was reserved for car parking which was being “misused for warehousing purpose” by Chase Departmental Store.

The FIR was registered under Sections 34, 322 and 420 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which pertain to cheating, dishonesty, acts committed by several people to further a common cause and unintentional murder.After the fire, Karachi assistant commissioner has directed the relevant authorities to set up high-powered committees to inspect fire safety measures in city’s high-rise building where commercial store were being operated.

The committees, which will be headed by the concerned deputy commissioner, will also check for building code violations.“Consequent upon a major fire incident erupted at PECHS Block 3, wherein an illegal warehouse was being operated by a super store, a major overview of such facilities is warranted,” reads the letter written to the written to deputy commissioners of the city’s six districts.

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