Eight rescue workers were injured when a building collapsed during a firefighting operation in a chemicals godown in Gujjarpura on Thursday.
The Rescue 1122 control room received a call about eruption of the fire at around 9:30am, a spokesperson said. Rescue teams rushed to the spot to douse the fire.
The premises covering six marlas had highly inflammable material, including thinners and other chemicals. Printing on wrappers of different food and other items was done in the unit and the thinners and chemicals were used for the purpose.
In a short span of time, the fire spread in all directions and engulfed the whole building.
After sensing the gravity of the situation, all the backup of Lahore Rescue 1122 service was called in. District Emergency Officer Shahid Waheed also reached the spot to lead the rescue operation. As many as 12 emergency vehicles and 40 rescuers took part in the operation.
While the rescuers were busy in the operation, the building collapsed. As a result, eight rescuers, including a safety officer, were injured.
They were shifted to a nearby hospital where doctors said three of them had suffered severe injuries. The spokesperson for the rescue service said all the injured workers were out of danger. Rescue officials asserted that the building collapsed because it was in a dilapidated condition.
The spokesperson quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the fire erupted because of sparking in a power transformer.
However, the owner of the building, Ali Ahmed, denied the claim that it was dilapidated. He said the roof had collapsed because of damage caused by the heat from the fire in the chemicals. He said work was under way at the place when the electric transformer caught fire. The workers used 12 drums of fire extinguishing material but failed to stop the blaze from spreading.
The owner said that when they could not extinguish the fire, he asked all the workers to leave the place immediately.
He said sparks in the transformer near the building had been noticed for the past few days and a complaint had been submitted over the issue.
The owner of the premises said safety measures had been taken and the building was in a good condition. He said the building had collapsed because the temperature had risen because of the fire.
He claimed that the fire had caused a loss of over Rs500 million.
According to eyewitnesses accounts, a chemical drum in the factory caught fire due to sparking in the electric transformer.
The fire spread to the other material in the godown and eventually the whole building.
This was the second major fire in the provincial capital in a couple of days. Two days back, many vehicles were damaged after an oil tanker and a fuel station caught fire in Fatehgarh.
The incident sparked panic in the locality as thick fumes of smoke could be seen from a long distance.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2021.