KARACHI: Ineptitude of authorities when it comes to handling rescue and disaster management once again came to the fore as major fire incidents took place in three different areas of Karachi on Friday.
Fortunately, no fatalities were reported. However, SITE Association president Junaid Ismail Makda said that though he can not provide accurate figures, the losses incurred are in billions.
Massive fire breaks out in Karachi's industrial area
According to Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) administrator Laeeq Ahmed, fire broke out at three different locations. The first fire erupted at Greaves, a pharmaceutical company near Hawke’s Bay at around 1am, which was put out with the help of eight fire brigade vehicles. However, later in the morning, the fire broke out again, said Ahmed. Talking about the other two spots, he said that fire gutted Mundia Exports, a textile company near SITE Chowrangi, at around 8am while another engulfed Chawla, a tyre warehouse near Gulbai, in the afternoon.
Ahmed told The Express Tribune that such large-scale fires at the same time have rarely happened before. According to him, the reason it became difficult to douse the flames was that all the fires were third degree. He said that except the tyre godown, the blazes at the other two sites have been brought under control. When asked, Ahmed said that the total number of fire brigade vehicles owned by the KMC are 34 and all of them were involved in the rescue operation. He added that since the situation was out of control, the KMC sought the help of the Pakistan Navy, Cantonment Board Clifton and Karachi Port Trust in the operation.
According to Makda, the SITE Association maintained coordination with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) as well as the fire brigade department. He added that he was satisfied with the rescue efforts but the problem occurred when the fire brigade vehicles had to go as far as Qasba Colony and Garden to refill water in their bowsers. “Later, with the coordination of the water board, two other hydrants of KWSB were also made available to supply the water, which helped stabilise the rescue process,” he said.
Fire at Dolmen Mall in Clifton, Karachi
Nonetheless, Makda complained that he kept calling the KMC administrator but he did not respond. “There was an urgent need of foam to counter the fire that had erupted from chemicals in the textile factory but we had to arrange it on our own,” he said. He added that according to his information, all three factories had the basic fire extinguishing equipment and alarms, which is why there were no fatalities.
Apathy and indifference?
Meanwhile, witnesses painted a gloomier picture. According to them, rescue workers exhibited a lazy attitude and it seemed that they have left it on the course of nature as if the fire is going to extinguish on its own.
“Suddenly, we were asked to evacuate the premises of the factory and we ran leaving our belongings inside as recalled the deadly incident of Ali Enterprises at Baldia in 2012,” said Naeem, a worker of the textile factory.
Tyre godown still in trouble
“We have controlled the two sites except the tyre godown,” said chief fire officer Tehseen Siddiqui, adding that they have doused 60 per cent of the flames at the tyre godown. According to him, the situation had been brought under control but shortage of water resulted in the re-emergence of chaos. He added that this problem was solved when contact was established with KWSB managing director Misbahuddin Farid.
Fire breaks out in Karachi paint-manufacturing factory
Siddiqui also confirmed that there was no fatality as people evacuated the buildings right after the fire erupted. Till the filing of this report, KMC spokesperson Ali Hassan said that the fire at the warehouse has yet to be extinguished.
When asked about the cause of fires, Siddiqui said that it was too early to determine them and that they can only be determined after investigations.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2016.
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