PID building blaze: ‘Prompt action kept records safe’

Information minister says committee formed to probe incident


Zulfiqar Mirza October 25, 2018
A fireman sprays water on flames, while a soldier stands next to employees at the PID building following a fire on Wednesday. PHOTOS: AGENCIES

ISLAMABAD: A suspected short circuit caused a fire in the multistorey Press Information Department (PID) building near Zero Point on Wednesday afternoon, sparking concerns and doubts that it could be malicious to destroy certain records.

However, prompt action, by the fire brigade controlled the fire before it could damage any records and evacuated people from the building. Only two people suffered minor injuries.

The fire reportedly broke out at around 1pm on Wednesday afternoon, near around lunchtime, in the offices of the Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications (DEMP) located on the first floor of the three-storey building.

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Due to the presence of paper, ink and other combustible chemicals, the fire quickly spread to the upper floors.

Fire engines of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) were quickly dispatched from the fire brigade headquarters in Sector G-7/1 to the PID building located less than a kilometre away.

Around seven fire engines of the CDA and IMC, including a snorkel, were soon putting out the fire and rescuing people who were either trapped inside the building or had escaped to its roof. At least two people were shifted to the hospital with minor burns and smoke inhalation.

The fire engines were soon joined by at least a dozen firefighting trucks from various services from neighbouring Rawalpindi. Together, the fire was put out after hectic efforts of two hours.

As news of the fire spread, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary rushed to the building to inspect the damage and oversee the rescue efforts.

While the firefighters, in their initial assessment, believed that a short circuit had sparked the fire, Chaudhary said that they have formed a committee to investigate all aspects of the incident and present a comprehensive report.

He, however, blamed the faulty administration and poor infrastructural system of the building for the incident.

Thankful that human lives had been lost in the incident, he lauded the capital’s fire services for their prompt action.

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“The record of PID is safe,” Chaudhary said, adding that they were digitizing the records of the department.

The federal government had built the three-storey building near Zero Point in 1987 for various ministries, divisions and departments to house their operations.

The building now hosts offices which manage affairs relating to the benevolent fund, institutions under the information ministry such as the PID, directorate of publications, department of advertisement, press information officer and audit bureaus.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2018.

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