LAHORE: A huge fire that broke out at the Pace Mall in Gulberg on Monday morning burned hundreds of shops, leaving heart-wrenching scenes as traders saw their goods turned to ashes.
The disturbing part of the tragic incident is that a large number of firefighting units and trained Rescue 1122 and Civil Defense personnel were unable to locate any part of the plaza.
A spokesman for Rescue 1122 said about 20 vehicles and 60 staff members were involved in the operation. Almost all shops , counters, and offices were reduced to ashes in a fire that started Sunday night until 11:45 a.m. Monday.
The provincial government has declared it an “A” fire.
The reports feared that large cracks appeared on the roof and walls of the plaza, forcing district officials to close them for use. plaza which was a lot of clothing stores.
The rescuer said Rescue 1122 received a call from a passer-by around 12:30 am about a fire.
The Rescue 1122 unit was dispatched to respond to the emergency but requested support due to the intensity of the fire.
The shopkeeper, Sajid Ali, said he was leaving his shop on the first floor when he saw smoke rising from a building followed by flames.
He said union leaders and other traders also called together and asked for help, but no one responded.
Union office workers suspect the plaza owners had a dispute with shop owners over the past two years or more.
Union President Irfan Latif, Secretary-General Mirza Amir Baig, and other members lodged a complaint with Gulberg police.
They appealed to former Punjab governor members of the late Salman Taseer’s family, including his wife Amina Taseer, his sons Shahbaz Taseer and Sheharyar Taseer, general manager Zulfiqar Bhatti, and general manager Ahmad Soroya, to ask the police to file a first information report against him. with them.
Union leaders suspected that the owners of the stores were demanding that the stores be relocated as they planned to sell the mall at the event. They accused its owners of burning the building.
Lahore SSP Operations confirmed to Dawn that police had received a request containing the names of members of the former governor’s family, saying the Model Town Division SP had held talks with union leaders to remove their names from the complaint.
He said a joint investigation by the police, Rescue 1122, and community security had been launched after union leaders dismissed reports that the fire had been caused by circuit breakers.
Speaking to the reporter, the union leader said about 60 percent of the mall belonged to the family of the late Punjab governor and the rest belonged to shopkeepers. He said the Taseer family was collecting Rs18 million every month under the head of ‘utility costs’ for plaza renovations.
Maintenance includes the provision of fire extinguishers, other safety gadgets, and security services.
He said firefighters were not working at the time of the fire.
He also blamed Rescue 1122 for delays in operations and said the first unit sent to the mall was returned to the station to refill the water supply.
“I had just invested R5m in my clothing store and moved it from the 4th floor to the first one a few weeks ago and bought a [summer] stock that was set on fire while I was there,” the tearful store owner told Dawn. It was the second major fire incident reported at Pace near the Liberty Roundabout.
Earlier, a fire broke out during the Musharraf regime in 2002 when [Prime Minister] Imran Khan owned the mall.