After 12 hours, Hafeez Centre Lahore still on fire

LAHORE: Even after 12 hours, a fire that had erupted on Sunday morning at a plaza located in Lahore’s Gulberg and had engulfed the building in flames could not be put out.

Additional fire brigades have been sought from the Army to put off the fire that was caused by a short circuit, a Geo News correspondent reporting live from the venue said.

According to details from rescue officials, the fire broke out in a shop on the second floor of the plaza — Hafeez Centre, where laptops, mobile phones and other electronic items are sold — and spread to the fourth floor. The fire brigade was called soon after the fire broke out around 6am in the morning.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is reportedly in constant contact with the Commissioner Lahore Division and rescue officials to ascertain the situation.

Mian Khalid Mahmood and Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid arrive on the scene on directions from the chief minister. CM Buzdar issues instructions for officials to hasten rescue operation.

So far, no loss of life has been reported but it is being said that electronic items worth millions have been destroyed by the flames.

According to a rescue official, the fire has engulfed 30-40 shops in total and has spread to the shopping centre’s backside as well. “The intensity of the fire has increased due to [the burning of] laptops and mobile phones,” he said.

Shopkeepers scramble to save electronic items from fire

As rescue officials and firefighters struggled to douse the flames, several shopkeepers attempted to save their costly electronic items by carrying them away from the plaza.

The shopkeepers can be seen in the background, scrambling to pick up large cardboard items — packed with electronic items — and carrying them out from the ground floor of the plaza.

Fear and panic spread among traders of the fire spreading to the ground floor of the building as well.

The Gulberg Main Boulevard Road has been closed for traffic due to relief activities being carried out in the area.

Despite the blazing inferno, some shopkeepers attempted to pull out their merchandise from the shops. Others wept as they saw the electronic items being reduced to ash in front of their own eyes.

Twelve fire brigades and 60 rescue officials are carrying our relief activities in the area. Reports from the ground state that eight fire brigades have run out of water.

Authorities have called for more fire brigades at the spot due to the intensity of the fire.

People on the fourth floor of the plaza had run to the rooftop and were rescued from there, officials added.

14-member committee set up

Meanwhile, the authorities have set up a 14-member inquiry committee to probe the Hafeez Centre fire incident, a notification said.

Deputy Commissioner Mudassar Riaz has been appointed as the convener of the committee, with assistant commissioner Model Town, SP Model Town, and chief engineer building central zone as its members.

According to the notification, the committee will investigate the incident and submit a report to the commissioner within seven days.