LAHORE: A man was killed and two others sustained injuries in a plaza fire on Lahore’s MM Alam Road this Saturday.
The victims were shifted to a nearby hospital with one of them jumping from the building’s second floor in a desperate attempt to save himself. The man identified as Imran, 50, succumbed to his wounds.
The incident created panic as Ali Tower, located on the famous MM Alam Road in the posh locality, which is strewn with restaurants and shopping plazas is thronged by families on a daily basis, especially so, on a Saturday.
A traffic jam in the wake of the fire caused a panic among visitors, as well as, a delay in rescue efforts.
Authorities say the fire broke out in the basement, spreading upstairs via the gaps in the staircase.
The authorities, however, managed to contain the fire even as it’s thick smoke spread to adjoining areas with passersby also being able to catch a glimpse of the blaze even from a distance.
Fifty people were trapped inside with the smoke causing suffocation. The fire’s intensity was higher in the lower levels of the building. The victims took reprieve on the balconies and took off their shirts to wave them to the rescue workers in a desperate plea for help.
An eyewitness told The Express Tribune that as soon as the fire broke out they rushed outside and called rescue teams for help. Authorities reached the scene within ten minutes in this regard.
They blocked the road’s entrances to ensure the movement of rescue teams was not impeded by traffic. Rescue services launched an operation firstly to put out the fire and then to evacuate those trapped inside.
It was difficult for the rescue teams enter from the front as high tension electricity wires passed from there. They, however, managed to enter from the adjacent building’s eighth floor using ropes and stairs to then also evacuate the victims. After an hour long operation, authorities managed to bring the fire under control, after which the evacuation process commenced.
After the cooling process, a special team of Rescue 1122, Urban Search and Rescue Unit launched a search and sweep operation to pin-point if someone was still trapped.
Punjab Government Spokesperson Fayyazul Hassan Chohan also reached the scene and briefed the media in this regard. He also said that the plaza was owned by son-in-law of ex-CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Imran Ali.
Rescue 1122 Official Spokesperson Farooq Ahmed told The Express Tribune that the fire has been brought under control and a rescue operation is currently underway to help those still trapped inside the building. Ahmed said that the Dolphin police force, as well as, other authorities had also reached the scene.