A fire broke out at the main Ferozsons outlet on The Mall on Wednesday and turned Rs150 million worth of in books to ash.
The wooden roof of the building also collapsed. Fire fighters were unable to trace the cause of the fire.
Outlet staff told The Express Tribune that the fire broke out on the ground floor during an electricity outage around 11:30am and continued till 6pm.
“It then spread to the upper portions and basement of the building,” they said.
The ground floor and first floor of the store display the books while the basement is used to store the stock. The outlet in the Ghulam Rasool Building, or, 60, The Mall, also operated as the Ferozsons corporate office.
Shamsul Hasan Madni, the outlet manager, told The Tribune that Rs150 million worth of books had been completely or partially burnt.
“None of the books that had been displayed or stored in the building are usable,” he said.
After the fire broke out, employees reported it and attempted to put it out using fire extinguishers installed in the outlet, he said.
“Rescue 1122 and fire brigade personnel arrived 75 minutes after we reported the fire,” he said. “By that time, most of the outlet was engulfed in flames.”
“We cannot say what caused the fire since there was an electricity outage when we first saw flames,” he said.
“The outlet does not have a backup generator.”
“What is strange is that the fire started in the rear part of the outlet where we have stored no inflammable material,” he said.
He said that it was unlikely that the fire was started by smoking since no one was allowed to smoke inside the building.
Tauqeer, a store employee, said that he saw smoke rising from the rear part of the shop and ran out to save himself.
A city fire brigade official said that the fire was contained within three hours but they continued to sprinkle water till the smoldering stopped.
“The wooden roof caved in after which burning wood kept the fire going,” he said.
He said other than Rescue 1122, WASA and City District Government water carriers helped extinguishing the fire.
Dr Rizwan Naseer, Director General of Rescue 1122, said that the timely arrival of their personnel prevented the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings.
Syed Gulzar Hussain, a fire fighter from the Fire Brigade, said that all material placed in the shop was flammable which increased the duration of the fire fighting operation.
He said that the fire did not spread because of the large number of fire fighting vehicles made available by WASA and CDGL.
Fourteen Rescue 1122 and 10 fire brigade vehicles participated in the fire fighting operation.
Ferozsons is a book publishing, printing and selling company established in 1894 by Maulvi Ferozuddin. It has five other outlets in Lahore and one each in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012.
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