LAHORE - The rooftop of a three-storey building was burnt down while goods and raw-material worth hundreds of thousands of rupees reduced to ashes when fire broke out in an old structure in congested Sootar Mandi, rescuers said on Thursday.

However, no casualty was reported in the fire, which erupted in the second floor of the building located inside the walled city. Police said that the fire created panic in the entire Lohari Gate area as several policemen were deployed around the site to provide smooth passage to the firefighting vehicles.

Rescue officials say they believe the chemical caught fire, shortly after an unidentified smoker threw a burning cigarette on the packets placed in a godown.

Several firefighters on fire brigade vehicles rushed to the site immediately but could not reach the spot to launch operation because of narrow streets. The building was evacuated soon after the fire broke out.

The rescue workers managed to put out the fire after hours long hectic efforts. Police said that a local businessman had set up two small shoemaking units on the first and second floor respectively while his office was established on the top floor. Further investigation was underway.

Meanwhile, a good number of local residents gathered outside the building and staged protest demonstration against the city district government, urging the authorities to remove the factories from the residential locality.

They said that lives and properties of the residents are at stake since several small factories and manufacturing units are located in the densely populated area. They were of the view that the factory fire incidents in the residential area could lead to a major disaster if the government failed to shift such units away from the heavily populated locality.