Monday Oct 19, 2020
LAHORE: Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames inside the Hafeez Centre electronic market on Monday, several hours after the inferno destroyed merchandise worth millions.
Rescue officials said that the cooling process was underway after flames at the plaza were doused. Shopkeepers — who helplessly wept at the sight of electronics worth millions being destroyed in the fire — protested when Punjab government ministers arrived on the scene.
The Lahore commissioner had constituted a 14-member committee to investigate the incident. The fire had erupted inside the second floor of the building early morning on Sunday at what is arguably the biggest electronics market in the city.
Rescue officials said that they were informed at 6:11 am and the fire spread when they arrived at the plaza to douse the flames. According to DG Rescue Rizwan Naseer, the fire was overcome at about 8:00 pm and 25 people were rescued from the building.
Batteries of electronic items exploded in the fire, which caused it to spread, said Naseer. He added that 30% of the building was affected by the fire.
Traders of Hafeez Centre estimated almost Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion worth of equipment had been lost in the fire. As many as 250 to 300 shops in the plaza had been gutted by the flames.
President of Ajnuman-e-Tajiran Hafeez Centerm Malik Kaleem talking to The News, said that almost 100 shops suffered around Rs 20 to Rs 25 million inventory losses each while 150 to 200 suffered a loss of Rs 1.5 to Rs 3 million loss each.
“There are big and small shopkeepers on each floor where the fire incident occurred. Out of which almost 100 shopkeepers had large businesses and 150 to 200 were operating small businesses with small shops”, he said. He said that further, details of the loss will be disclosed when each shopkeeper will calculate and submit claims.
When the fire had erupted on Sunday, several shopkeepers attempted to save their costly electronic items by carrying them away from the plaza.
The shopkeepers could be seen as the firefighters battled the flames, 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.