Ichra Fire Engulfed One Person and Injured 16 in Lahore
LAHORE: One person died and 16 others were injured in a fire that broke out at a shopping plaza in Ichra on Tuesday.
The fire engulfed the first floor of the seven-storied shopping plaza, adjacent to the Ichra police station, at around 11am.
People working on the ground floor of plaza and the nearby Al Saaed Burj helped the people stranded inside to get out. “We brought bamboo ladders from a shop in the nearby market and placed those next to the balconies of the plaza. This enabled a lot of people to escape. Rescue vehicles came later,” said Imran, who runs a shop in the nearby Latif Plaza.
“I saw six people jumping from the windows,” he said. One of them later died at a hospital. “Smoke was coming out of the windows. Women and children were shouting for help from the balconies,” he said.
Iqbal Town Circle CIA DSP Syed Riaz Ali Shah said that policemen were the first to respond to the emergency. “We put ladders on the roof of the police station and the policemen rescued people,” he said. Rescue 1122, Fire Brigade, Edhi Ambulance, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation and police reached the spot later, he said.
DCO Capt (r) Usman, Operations DIG Dr Haider Ashraf, Model Town SP Dr Muntasir also came to the scene to oversee the rescue operation.
The injured were taken to the Services Hospital. Doctors said most of them had suffered serious burns. The injured were identified as Shahzad, 31; Abid Hussain, 28; Hafiz Bilal, 43; Manzoor, 35; Zubir, 17; Abdul Ghaffar, 58; Mian Jahangir, 30; Naeem Akram, 32; Bagga Masih, 21; Hafiz Hussain, Abdul Ghaffar, Jahanzaib, Zia Bashir, Amir Shahzad, Alina and Yasir Bilal.
Bilal Javed, who has a shop in Latif Plaza, said that rescue teams and other services responded very late to the emergency. “That is why so many people were injured. At least six people jumped from various floors of the plaza. One of them was hanging on from a rod for about 10 minutes before he fell down,” he said.
Hakim Khan, a gatekeeper of the plaza, said that he had been asleep when the fire broke out. “When I came out, the corridors were filled with thick smoke. There was so much heat that I could not hold the guardrail at the stairs. I ran to the roof of the plaza and called out for other people to follow me,” he said. He said that most of the people who were on the fourth and fifth floor had gone to the roof of the plaza and were safe.
Jam Sajjad Hussain, the Rescue 1122 spokesperson, denied the suggestions that they had responded late. “We received the first call at about the fire at 11.30am. The first rescue team reached the spot within five minutes. The man who jumped from the window and later died did it out of panic. Had he been more patient, he would have been rescued like the others,” he said.
DIG Ashraf said that the cause of the fire had not been ascertained yet. DCO Usman said that circumstantial evidence suggested that the fire broke out due to an electric short circuit.
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