A fire broke out at a 132 KV grid station in Mareer Chowk on Saturday. The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) station’s control and panel rooms were completely gutted while 27 feeders tripped, cutting the power supply for many areas in the garrison city. No losses of life or injuries were reported in the incident. Damages were estimated at more than Rs250 million, an Iesco official told The Express Tribune.
A Water and Power Development Authority official said it would take around 20 days to restore power if engineers worked day and night to repair the damage.
The areas that plunged into darkness after the fire erupted include Mareer Hassan, Mareer Chowk, Tipu Road, Viqarun College, Katcheri, Jhanda Chichi, Moti Mehal, Saddar, Ganjmandi, Gawalmandi, Saddar, Benazir Bhutto Road and Committee Chowk.
The fire broke out at the grid station at 3:30pm, and within minutes, electrical wiring was affected and transformers were shorting out, even those several blocks away. Thick black clouds of smoke engulfed the area. Law enforcement agencies and traffic police officials blocked the road, causing massive traffic jams in nearby localities. After learning of the incident, Rescue 1122, City District Government Rawalpindi and Cantonment Board officials rushed to the scene and extinguished the fire in around one hour.
Iesco Sub-Divisional Officer Amir Shehzad said the fire was caused by short circuiting. He said a huge fire had engulfed the control room and damaged all the equipment inside. However, Iesco Chief Engineer Muhammad Iqbal said the fire was caused because of a technical fault at the grid station. He estimated the loss at Rs300 million.
According to Iesco Reading Supervisor Malik Khalid, high voltage which reversed from Pirwadhai grid station could not be defused here, and as a result it destroyed the whole system, burning high powered cables with small explosions. He said the situation was uncertain as relentless efforts could put back the grid station in full capacity in a month. Rescue 1122 official Deeba Shahnaz told the media that firefighters responded in five minutes and overcame the blaze within 10 minutes. She said four Rescue 1122 fire trucks and two each from the district government and the cantonment board took part in operation.
Besides residents, ruling party politicians from the area, Hanif Abbasi and Shakeel Awan, visited the gutted grid station and reviewed the situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2013.
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