LAHORE - Three workers died after huge fire erupted in a garments factory located in the residential Karim Park area early yesterday.

Rescue workers said two young men died on the spot while the third succumbed to burns at a hospital. The blaze broke out in the two-storey building early yesterday morning.

Initial investigation suggested the fire erupted because of short-circuiting.

Over a dozen firefighting units took part in the operation, which lasted for hours. The blaze triggered panic in the densely populated area as dozens of people gathered on the spot. Locals complained that Ashraf was running a small unit illegally in the residential neighbourhood.

Police identified the victims as Muhammad Ashraf, 45, Jahanzaib, 22, and Shahid, 20. Jahanzaib belonged to Hafizabad district while Ashraf and Shahid were the residents of Shakargarh.

Garments and machinery worth hundreds of thousands of rupees were reduced to ashes. However, the owners were yet to assess the exact losses.

Authorities yesterday ordered an inquiry to probe into the incident. Locals told the police that the fire broke out on the first floor all of a sudden. Only a few workers were at work when the fire erupted due to short-circuiting.

“It happened all of a sudden. The fire spread to the entire structure within minutes,” said Muhammad Khan, who runs a tea stall close to the site. “We immediately alerted the fire brigade officials.”

Thick smoke and flames were visible from a considerable distance as rescuers rushed to the site and launched the search and rescue operation. The fire broke out at about 8:30am. It took fire-fighters at least three hours to extinguish the fire .

Police contingents reached the spot soon after the incident and cordoned off the area to provide smooth passage to the rescue workers . A team of the city district government also visited the site to inspect the site. Further investigations were underway.