Three labourers killed in factory fire in Karachi

‘One exit point, windows sealed with iron grills caused difficulties in dousing blaze’

OUR CORRSPONDENT February 11, 2021


Flames engulfed a thread factory in Baldia Town on Tuesday night, claiming the lives of three labourers and leaving two others injured.

One of the deceased was reportedly killed when he went back inside the building to rescue his fellow labourers.

In a video statement on Wednesday, a manager of the factory located near Mowach Morh blamed the delayed response of the fire department for the deaths, whereas the fire department pointed out flaws in the factory building that made it a fire hazard.

‘Little room to exit’

According to Chief Fire Officer Muhammad Mobin, flames initially erupted on the ground floor of the three-storey building but the blaze soon spread to other floors.

The fire chief said that there was only one entry and exit point to the building, and only one staircase to ascend to, or descend from, the upper floors. Besides, he added, the windows were sealed with iron grills. These factors caused extreme inconvenience to fire officials during the extinguishing operation, said Mobin.

It took five hours to completely extinguish the blaze and fire teams were assisted with water tankers during the process, after which the cooling process followed, said the fire chief, adding that the fire teams had reached the site with four fire tenders and one snorkel.

The flames on the first floor were doused first using the snorkel, the fire chief told.

Most of the workers inside the factory at the time of the fire had exited the building but a search was launched for the three missing labourers on the request of their colleagues after cooling process was completed, according to Mobin.

Read: Fire breaks out in chemical factory in Karachi's SITE area


Three burnt bodies were retrieved from the charred building.

The deceased were identified as Fayyaz, 20, Kazim, 21, and Ali Sher, 25, said the police, adding that all three were residents of a nearby area. It was Sher who had managed to exit the factory alive but went back inside to save the others, according to police.

The deceased were shifted to Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital.

A fire official, Muhammad Shoaib, 25, was injured during the extinguishing operation when he was hit by a rod while a rescue worker suffocated due to the smoke. Both the injured were shifted to a hospital.

Speaking to the media, Kazim’s brother, Muhammad Ishaq, said that that him and his brother lived in the factory and that he had left the building for a short while when the fire broke out.

Finding flames licking the building when he returned, a panicked Ishaq called his brother and was told that Kazim and others had moved to the topmost floor of the building but the fire had spread there as well.

Ishaq was not able to contact Kazim again, he said. The families of Haider and Fayyaz also lamented that there were no arrangements to deal with an emergency situation in the building. The lack of an emergency exit led to the deaths, they believed.

‘Delayed response’

In the video statement issued on Wednesday, a manager of the factory claimed that the fire teams reached the site after a delay of two hours.

There were around 22 to 25 workers in the building at the time of the fire and all, except three, managed to come out of the factory on their own by the time the fire teams arrived, said the manager.

The fire had broken out in the store and the warehouse on the ground floor, he said.

According to him, the fire tenders arrived at intervals and ran out of water soon after the operation was launched. He said that the factory management arranged some 16 to 17 water tankers for the extinguishing operation and the snorkel reached the site even after that.

He further stated that the workers who had managed to exit the factory tried to control the flames with fire extinguishers and one of them entered the building again to bring another fire extinguisher but the electricity wires caught fire and the power supply was suspended. The fire erupted around 11.15pm and the fire teams arrived at 1am despite the factory owner informing the fire department immediately after the flames ignited, said the manager. The bodies of the three deceased were retrieved by 5.30am, he added.

When the SITE Fire Station was contacted later on Wednesday, fire official Bilal Aqeel said that the complaint was recieved at 11.35pm on Tuesday night and only one fire tender was available at the station at the time. It was dispatched immediately, he told.

The cause of the fire could not be ascertained till the filing of this report.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ