Fire breaks out at Lahore shopping mall

LAHORE: A night-time fire at a posh shopping centre in a central Lahore neighbourhood was contained six hours after it broke out and the cooling process was underway, police and civil administration said Monday morning.

The city fire brigade sent 25 firefighters and at least 60 rescue workers to the Pace shopping centre in Gulberg neighbourhood shortly after 2:00 am, as images online showed flames peeling from the top of the block and a dark plume of smoke drifting into the sky.

A spokesperson for the Rescue 1122 service said snorkel and aerial platform special fire vehicles are also present on the scene while teams have also been called in from nearby districts.

No casualties were reported in the incident.

The fire caused extensive material damage, ripping through hundreds of stores that sold clothes, leather goods and cosmetics — many of which were highly flammable.

The cause is not known at this stage.

“Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the blaze,” the ministry statement read.

Lahore Deputy Commissioner Umer Sher Chatha said it was a Class A fire — a fire that involves solid combustibles such as wood, coal, paper, plastic, straw, cloth, rubber or any other solid material.

“The building will be closed until it is safe,” a member of the fire brigade told reporters at the scene of the fire. “We have to see the impact on the structure and the police will need to go in to investigate.”

The fire came in an area popular with shoppers, just weeks before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, traders exploded at the Pace management, claiming the building was deliberately lit.

Police say the security in-charge and a member of the staff have been arrested for obstructing the rescue operations.

Incidents of fire are reported frequently in the provincial capital of Punjab — some caused by electrical short-circuits, others by unsafe heating methods.

In October 2020, a massive fire in Hafeez Centre, Lahore’s major multi-storey market housing mobile phones, laptops and computers business, gutted more than 400 shops, godowns and repair facilities, inflicting heavy losses on traders.

It was the fifth major fire reported in the Gulberg neighbourhood over the last four years.

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