Displaced families worry about future as department store fire finally brought under control

After strenuous efforts that lasted 36 hours, firefighters finally brought a massive blaze under control on Thursday that broke out in the basement of a department store in a high-rise residential building near Chowrangi prison a day earlier .

Affected families have requested compensation and alternative accommodation. They worried whether authorities would demolish the 19-story building, Sumya Bridge View, after the Category III fire was extinguished or let them live there.

Many of the 170 families displaced by the fire moved to homes of friends or relatives as well as hotels, while some stayed in tents under the bridge in front of the ill-fated building.

“Can anyone tell us what will happen to our houses? Will we be able to get our homes back or not? asks a frustrated resident, Talha Ali. “All are partners in crime and are trying to save each other.”

When the fire broke out, residents began running out of the building, leaving behind most of their belongings, including cars. Claiming compensation from the authorities, they also claimed that the competent authorities had been informed of the illegal storage in the basement several times in the past, but no one had taken serious action.

“They [the building owner] sold [the basement]they or they [the department store owner] bought [the basement for the warehouse]. and U.S [the residents] lost [our houses]“, said Ali.

“Who will compensate us and when and how, for our goods and property of billions or rupees are at stake?” Does our future resemble that of the effected people of the Nasla tower? »

The families claimed the store owner had insurance and hadn’t lost anything. Firefighters were able to enter the basement and bring the blaze under control after intense efforts lasting more than 36 hours as the cooling process continued.

“Thank God! The fire has been brought under control,” Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Fire Chief Mobin Ahmed said in an interview with The News. hopefully it will be finished by tonight.”

He said the presence of cooking oil, alcoholic contents such as disinfectants and perfumes and other materials caused the massive fire. He added that firefighters were able to enter the basement by breaking up the sidewalk, which had also been encroached on for the basement. “It was a huge basement,” he explained.

Ferozabad Police have registered an FIR under Sections 322, 420/34 of the Pakistani Penal Code against the landlord and proprietor of the department store on the complaint of Deputy Director of Sindh Buildings Control Authority, Niaz Leghari, for having abused reserved car basement parking as store warehouse.

“The basement of the building reserved for parking and misused for warehouse purposes by the department store caught fire. Additionally, the SBCA’s Technical Committee on Hazardous Buildings (TCDB) in its initial report has already declared the building as “unfit for human habitation and unsafe,” according to a statement released by the SBCA to DC East.

An adjacent high-rise building was also evacuated on Thursday to avoid any untoward incidents, while another building was also likely to be evacuated. “Initially, the building where the fire broke out was declared unsafe for habitation purposes as cracks appeared in various walls by the time firefighters brought the fire under complete control. The technical team of the SBCA will visit and inspect the basement,” said a senior SBCA officer. “We are also investigating builder involvement; either the builder sold or approved the basement to the department store or department store management encroached on the basement for its warehouse.

Police and Rangers have been asked to cordon off the area around the building to avoid any untoward incident. However, no arrests have been made as of this reporting. Police said the police investigation department was working to arrest those named in the FIR. A jobseeker lost his life while more than half a dozen others suffered burns and fell unconscious in the fire that broke out in the warehouse at 10.30am on Wednesday.

Inspections ordered

The Karachi Commissioner has instructed the SBCA Chief Executive Officer, Cantonment Executive Officers and Deputy Commissioners of Korangi, Central, East, West, Keamari and Malir Districts to carry out inspections of shopping malls and high-rise buildings. height to verify whether or not these buildings have complied with the approved construction plans.

In a letter, the commissioner said on Thursday that the major fire broke out in block 3 of PECHS, in which an illegal warehouse was operated by a hypermarket. “Therefore, it is necessary to immediately begin an inspection of buildings where shops and restaurants are operated which may have warehouses in violation of the approved building. Inspections can be carried out under the direction of the relevant CDs.

Relief for families

Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi leader Hafiz Naeemur Rehman visited the Inferno department store site and expressed his solidarity with the affected families, demanding that the government provide immediate aid and alternative accommodation to the affected families .

Rehman, while speaking to the media, called on the government to immediately provide alternate accommodation for the affected families, as they were camping under a bridge next to the building. He demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and strict legal action against those responsible.