LAHORE: Three minors were burnt to death in a house fire in the Factory area of Lahore on Friday night.
The children were cousins. In an attempt to save them, their uncle Imran suffered burn injuries and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
SHO Factory Area Inspector Farooq Asghar Awan said initial reports suggested that the families were eating Iftar and the children were playing on the second third floor of the house. He said the fire broke out when the children somehow got hold of a matchbox and started playing with it.
Awan explained that a bed sheet caught fire and the blaze soon engulfed the entire floor of the house on Walton Road. As a result, three minor children were burnt to death.
Police and rescue teams reached the spot to retrieve the bodies of five-year-old Umm-e-Habiba and three-year-old Hasnain. Ninety-year-old Imran and three-year-old Iman Fatima were taken to the burns ward of the Jinnah hospital where the minor succumbed to her injuries.
Faryad, the father of Hasnain, said that they were eating Iftar when the fire broke out. The fire spread rapidly and they could not save the children, he added.
A rescue official said that when their team reached the spot, the door of the room was opened and the premises was full of smoke. “It’s a four-storey house and the children were playing on the second floor. Three families live in the house.”
Faryad is an employee of the Water and Sanitation Agency and his two brothers are labourers.
Police said it was investigating the matter from different aspects and the bodies would be handed over to the families after legal formalities.
Funeral prayers offered
The funeral prayers of the children were offered on Saturday and they were buried at Walton Road Model Colony Graveyard Number 2. Hundreds of people were in attendance.
According to a Rescue 1122 official, the matter seems a little suspicious because children usually eat Iftar with their parents. “How is it possible that the parents while the children play in a locked room?” he asked. He said more facts would be revealed after a proper investigation.
According to statistics released by Rescue 1122 on International Firefighters’ Day on May 4th, an average of 52 fires are reported in the province on a daily basis.
During the first four months of 2019, 6,195 fires were reported in Punjab which killed 49 people and injured 269 others. The data also shows that around 11 fire incidents are reported in the provincial capital on a daily basis, placing Lahore at the very top of the list. So far, in 2019, 1,311 fires were reported in Lahore which killed nine and injured 75 others.
The report issued by Rescue 1122 also shows that Faisalabad and Gujranwala followed with 556 and 379 fires reported, respectively. The majority of such incidents were caused by short circuits while some of them were also caused by human callousness.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2019.