At least 21 people were injured on Sunday when a fire erupted at a furnace oil depot on Odeon Street on Samundri Road. The injured, including six rescuers, were taken to Allied Hospital and the divisional headquarters hospital, where doctors said that the condition of five was critical.
Police have started an investigation against the depot’s owner.
Rescue 1122 officials said that the fire was apparently started by a match stick irresponsibly thrown close to a furnace oil drum. They said within minutes, the fire wrapped the shop causing at least 12 oil drums to explode. Fifteen people were trapped in the burning shop, they said.
They said shortly after six rescuers went in to help them, the roof of the depot collapsed, trapping 21 people underneath.
More rescuers were rushed and the trapped people were pulled out in less than 30 minutes using cranes.
The fire was also put out and prevented from spreading it to the adjacent shops.
The injured were identified as shop owner, Amjad, his son Aamir and workers Asif, Ata Mohiyuddin, Haji Niaz Baig, Umar, Tayyab, Ahsan, Bilal, Taj Din, Muhammad Ahmad, Bilal, Aslam, Riaz Ahmad. The rescuers were identified as Sargodha Road Rescue In-charge Adnan, Sajid, Shahid Javaid, Javaid Aslam, Hafiz Ali and Habib.
Eyewitness Muhammad Saeed told The Express Tribune that a fire had earlier erupted at the same depot last year. It had been caused by the workers’ negligence, he said.
District Coordination Officer Muhammad Ameen Chaudhary expressed concern over the incident.
Talking to The Express Tribune, he said he had directed the officials concerned to seal the depot.
He said he had also ordered a survey of shops that lacked fire fighting and preventive safeguards.
There are more than 150 furnace oil stores and depots in the city. Most of the depots are located in Karkhana Bazaar, Factory Area, Samundri Road, Jaranwala Road, Sargodha Road and General Bus Stand. It is observed that most dealers sell furnace oil and petrol without taking appropriate precautionary measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2013.