LAHORE – A massive fire broke out on the fourth floor of Rehman Plaza situated at the Sharey Fatima Jinnah on Monday morning, leaving 13 people unconscious, hurling thick clouds nearly 70 yards high and prompting evacuation orders from other floors of the building.

The fire erupted on the floor housing offices of the PIA, lawyers and local companies. “At least 13 people were trapped inside the building, which lacks proper exit control system and other fire safety measures,” said a Rescue 1122 firefighter, adding all of the entrapped people were successfully evacuated. The injured were shifted to the Mayo Hospital where their condition was said to be stable until the filing of this report. Rescue officials declared the main cause of fire eruption as short circuiting.

Hundreds of cars, mini buses and other passenger buses, blanketed with charcoal grey cash, sped away from the aforesaid road along the a two-lane paved highway towards Chairing Cross and its opposite Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Dozens of people crammed into the backs of buses. Thick clouds also reduced visibility to less than 10 feet in the area of busy artery surrounding the sensitive installations including the building of Nawa-i-Waqt, CCPO Office, Plaza Cinema, a filling station, etc.

Earlier, fire brigade, fire rescuers and lead fire rescuers appeared on the scene and cordoned off the building. They also complained about insufficient safety measures, lack of fire staircase, absence of fire hydrants and proper exits. The fire was extinguished within minutes due to timely response of the firefighters.

Meanwhile, the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) gunned down three hardened criminals involved in armed bank robberies in the Shahdara Police precincts late on Monday. Two of the deceased were identified as Dilbar Khan and Hameed Khan, both hailing from Kohat.

Police sources confided to TheNation that the chapter of their life was closed in a fake encounter, as the aforesaid gangsters had been operating in Punjab for the last several months. “They committed at least two dozen bank robberies here in the Punjab capital last year,” they added.

Also, the body of a 50-year-old security guard was recovered from a sub-office of a textile factory in the Gulberg police precincts on Monday.

The deceased was identified as Azam, hailing from Pind Dadan Khan. As per details, Muhammad Umar owned a textile factory on Manga Mandi Road and had established its sub-office in Firdaus Market. On the day of incident, Azam was found dead under mysterious circumstances.