LAHORE: A five-storey departmental store ‘TGS’ located in the Mini Market area of Gulberg completely gutted down after a massive fire erupted due to ‘unknown’ reason in a ‘mysterious’ way during the wee hours on Tuesday.
The road leading to Mini Market was closed for traffic soon after the rescuers started the fire-fighting operation to avoid any untoward incident. The officials from the police also reached the spot besides deputy commissioner Sameer Ahmed Syed to monitor the fire-fighting operation. The fire was so horrible that it soon engulfed the whole structure of the five-storey building.
“The fire was so horrific that all of us were frightened. We tried to secure the premises of the petrol pump (adjacent to the building) with the help of the rescue personnel because otherwise, it could have been a dreadful episode,” said Irfan, a worker at the petrol pump.
He also told that only the security guards of the store were present when the tragic incident took place.
Muhammad Afzal, a worker at a local burger joint near the departmental store, told Pakistan Today that it was a loss worth millions for the owners of the store as it used to sell expensive items including clothes and different household items. The fire broke out before 4 am and the rescuers reached hours later, therefore the whole structure gutted down, he added.
A senior rescue official, who was also present during the fire-fighting operation, told Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity that the fire broke out in mysterious circumstances and the rescuers were informed hours after the tragic incident.
“We were informed when the fire had engulfed the whole building. As per my experience, it was a deliberate attempt and not a short-circuiting incident,” the senior official said. He added that all the CCTV cameras must be inspected thoroughly to probe the incident as it was highly likely that it was a targeted activity.
Meanwhile, Waqas, the manager of the departmental store was reluctant to share any information regarding the fire incident as he said that he was under immense mental stress and did not want to say anything this soon.
“I left the store around 2:00 am after the closing and the security guards informed me about the incident around 5:15 am,” he said.
Farooq Ahmed, a Rescue 1122 Lahore spokesperson said that 15 rescue vehicles and over 50 rescuers took part in the fire-fighting operation after receiving the call at 5.35am. He also said that Rescue 1122 was informed very late.
According to Imran Maqbool, the spokesperson of the deputy commissioner, the cause of the fire was yet to be determined and a conclusion will be reached after a detailed report by the forensic experts. No FIR will be registered till the filing of the report.
It is worth mentioning here that a similar incident took place in 2015 at the Al Fatah Store near Liberty Market in which six people were injured while goods worth millions of rupees were reduced to ashes.
Pictures by: Zubair Mahfooz