Threat to heritage: Office in Dyal Singh mansion catches fire

Fire erupts again three hours after fire fighters leave.

Rana Yasif July 29, 2012


An office at the Dyal Singh Mansion caught fire on Sunday. The fire was blamed on a short circuit.

The mansion is a colonial-era building protected under the Antiquity Act 1975 and one of the 169 buildings in the city declared protected sites under the Punjab Special Premises Ordinance 1985.

Fire at the office of shoe company, Service Sales Corporation Private Limited, reduced furniture to ash. However, the fire did not spread to adjacent shops.

A Fire Brigade official said they had received a call at 1:28pm and dispatched two vehicles from Town Hall right away. Eventually eight fire engines participated in the operation to extinguish the fire, he said.

Muhummad Murtaza, a Rescue 1122 spokesman, said they had also dispatched some vehicles. He said that furniture, a photo copy machine and computers were destroyed. “The operation to put down the fire continued for more than two hours,” he said.

“A shops next to the office stocks arms and ammunition however, the fire was stopped before it spread that far,” he said. He said explosions small blasts occurred when the fire got to compressors of air conditioners. He said the fire was caused by short circuiting. He said the office was rented by Muhammad Riaz.

The fire fighters had left by 5pm but the fire began to blaze again at around 8:30pm.

Murtaza said three vehicles were sent to extinguish the after blaze after call came. “Some smoldering furniture went up in flames again but we put it out,” he said. He said the façade of the building was undamaged but officials would assess the roof later.

The two-storey building which stands 30 foot high was built by Sir Dyal Singh in the early 1930s. It is located adjacent to the Sir Ganga Ram Trust Building on The Mall. The property is now managed by the Evacuee Trust Property Board which has rented out parts of it to commercial as well as residential tenants.

Earlier Shezan restaurant also housed in the building had caught fire on February 14, 2006, during protests around the Danish cartoon controversy. The ETPB had revoked the restaurant’s tenancy after that incident.

This is the second historic building on the Mall in three months to have been affected by a fire after the Ghulam Rasool Building housing Ferozesons bookshop (on March 30).

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.