School fire prompts safety concerns in Rawalpindi

Devastating inferno reduces 70-80% of children’s school bags and furniture to ashes

Imran Asghar April 22, 2024


A devastating fire ravaged a private school in Rawalpindi’s Khayaban-e-Sir Syed area, causing significant damage to property and raising alarm over safety protocols.

The inferno consumed furniture worth millions of rupees and the school bags of 70-80% of the students.

Officials said that all students and teachers were evacuated swiftly and no one was reported injured in the incident.

The blaze erupted suddenly, engulfing both buildings of the Dar-e-Arqam School in a blaze that was visible from afar, accompanied by thick plumes of smoke. Children, startled by the unfolding chaos, cried out in fear as teachers, staff, and nearby residents sprang into action, swiftly evacuating everyone to safety at a nearby government college. Despite the rapid evacuation, the fire claimed the belongings of dozens of students and reduced the school's infrastructure to ashes.

Residents and shopkeepers joined the rescue efforts, braving the flames to ensure the children were safely ushered out. Parents were promptly contacted and reunited with their children, averting a potential tragedy.

Firefighters from Rescue 1122 battled the flames for an hour before bringing the situation under control. Recounting their ordeal, students described moments of panic and suffocation as thick smoke filled their classrooms during Urdu lessons, forcing a hasty exit through narrow school gates.

One student, Muzamil, credited his father, Jan Zeeshan Khan, for aiding in their escape and praised the swift response of the community in the face of danger. Initial investigations pointed to a short circuit as the cause, possibly exacerbated by previous electrical disruptions.

Authorities, including the police and Rescue 1122 responded to the emergency, launching an inquiry into the incident. As a precaution, the school remains closed pending a thorough safety assessment and electrical inspections.

District Education Authority (DHA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yasin Baloch has ordered a comprehensive probe into the fire, emphasising stringent safety measures before schools can reopen. Agha Shahab Maqsood, a senior member of the All Pakistan Private Schools Association (APPSA), confirmed the fire's origin on the upper floor due to a short circuit and praised the swift action that prevented injuries but highlighted the urgent need for improved safety standards across educational institutions.

Sources said the fire also reportedly damaged its structure, forcing the authorities to seal the building for proper assessment.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2024.


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