Accidental incinerations: Five perish in domestic fire

Fire caused by short circuit, spread within minutes; Rescue 1122 took 30 mins to arrive, complain locals.


The charred remains of one of the gutted rooms. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI:


Five members of a family including a couple and three children were killed while four others sustained burns as a fire broke out in their three-storey house on Saturday.


The tragic accident occurred in Town E-Block, Satellite Town in the jurisdiction of Banni Police Station. “A fire erupted due to a short circuit, which then engulfed a nearby refrigerator, causing its compressor to explode. Consequently, there was a massive fire and gas leak, leading to suffocation,” said Banni Police Station House Officer (SHO) Nadeem Zafar. The deceased were identified as Rashid Javaid, 32, and Amna Rashid, 30, their children Zoya Rashid, 7, and 18-month-old Anya Rashid, and Javaid’s niece Zainab Kashif, 5.

The family was asleep when the fire broke out. Javaid and his wife woke up and tried to put out the fire, but fell unconscious due to suffocation. Zeshan Nazir, a close relative of Javaid’s family, said that two children died due to suffocation, while Zainab died after a ceiling fixture fell on her.

Rescue 1122 officials said Javaid was a garments trader and used a portion of his house to store his stock. “Due to the clothing and extensive woodwork in the house, the fire spread very quickly,” said Dr Abdul Rehman, district emergency officer of Rescue 1122.

The police further said that Javaid’s 60-year-old mother Firdoos Bibi, his brothers Kashif and Haris Rashid, and two-year-old Ali Kashif also suffered burns and were shifted to the Holy Family Hospital burn centre. Locals informed that Rescue 1122 took over half-an-hour to reach the site, by which time flames had engulfed most of the house. They added that the firefighters took another 10 minutes to begin efforts to douse the blaze. However, Dr Abdul Rehman told The Express Tribune that Rescue 1122 received the call at 5:42 and managed to reach the site at 5:53.

Zeshan Nazir informed that a marriage in the family was scheduled to be held next Friday and as part of the preparations, the family had the furniture polished with varnish and other chemicals two days prior to this incident. The fire may have spread quickly due to the chemicals, which acted as fire accelerants, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2013.

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