Firefighter among three injured in towel factory fire

Struggling to find water, fire brigade staff manages to bring blaze under control after eight-hour effort


Sajid Rauf November 19, 2018
The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board provided 125,000 gallons of water on site to the fire tenders to extinguish the fire. PHOTO: INP

KARACHI: Three people, including a firefighter, were injured as they attempted to put out a fire that engulfed a towel and hosiery factory in Gabol Town Saturday night.  The blaze was brought under control by the fire brigade after a struggle of almost eight hours.

The building was dilapidated after the fire as the fire brigade staff struggled to control the fire due to unavailability of water and narrow streets. Towels, hosiery, machinery and other raw material of the factory were completely burned.

As many as 11 fire tenders of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and a van of the Pakistan Navy took part in the extinguishing process.

Located within the limits of the Gabol Town police station, the factory was set ablaze till its second floor late Saturday night.

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The fire that erupted suddenly intensified and smoke emancipating from the factory rose to the skies. On receiving news, the police, Rangers and residents of the area reached the spot in large numbers. The fire brigade staff was also called and three fire tenders reached the scene to bring the blaze under control. However, in light of the intensity of the fire, an additional seven fire tenders and snorkels of the fire brigade were dispatched to the spot.

The fire brigade faced difficulty in its operation due to the narrow streets around the factory. As a precautionary step, buildings nearby were evacuated and the fire brigade staff declared the building as "extremely damaged and dilapidated" and asked the residents to stay away from the building. The fire brigade staff demolished the walls of the building from three places and climbed the roofs of the surrounding factories to control the fire but the wall of the factory collapsed, injuring three persons, including a fire fighter, who were immediately shifted to a nearby hospital.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Muhammad Imtiaz told The Express Tribune news of the fire in the factory was received by the fire brigade at 4:15am, upon which the fire brigade dispatched three fire tenders to the spot. He said that difficulties were faced in controlling the fire due to shortage of water.

Owing to the closure of the water hydrant at Sakhi Hassan, the fire tenders had to fill water from the hydrant near Nipa Chowrangi, shared, adding that as soon as the fire tender would be loaded with water, the blaze would erupt once again.

As many as seven fire tenders were filling water at the same time from the Nipa Chowrangi water hydrant which increased the difficulty. Later, on the directives of the Karachi commissioner, water tankers were dispatched to the factory while a fire tender and staff of the Pakistan Navy was also present on the spot. During this time, clothes of the hosiery were removed from the factory.

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In search of water

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) provided 125,000 gallons of water on site to the fire tenders to extinguish the fire. On receiving information about the incident, KWSB Managing Director Khalid Mahmood Shaikh declared an emergency on Nipa, Sakhi Hasan and Safoora water hydrants.

The water board's hydrants and tankers cell provided water tankers to the fire tenders on the site immediately till the fire was controlled. However, due to narrow streets and dense population, it was difficult for the fire bowsers to transfer water into tanks.

On instructions of Shaikh, officials of the hydrants and tankers cell arrived at the site to make sure the fire brigade had enough water to extinguish the fire.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2018.

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