Islamabad - A huge fire engulfed a large portion of the makeshift Itwar Bazar in sector H-9 here on Wednesday, causing loss of millions of rupees to the vendors.

This is the second such incident in less than a year’s time owing largely to the criminal negligence on part of the CDA staff responsible for security of the Bazaar. The CDA is to be blamed for the loss as it was an off day during which only a few vendors visit the market.

The Bazaar operates on three days including Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. The vendors usually visit the Bazaar on the off days to stuff their shops with the goods and for cleaning.

As the fire spread to the second-hand clothes section of the Itwar Bazar at Peshawar Morr, thick clouds of smoke could be seen from miles away. According to the initial reports, the fire erupted in a shop at around 1 pm due to burst of a generator in E-section.

 Over 100 stalls selling used clothes and other items were burnt to ashes. To determine the cause of the fire, a committee consisting of officials has been constituted. No casualties have been reported as there were not many people present in the shopping market at the time of the incident.  

A large number of people gathered at the premises as the fire brigade vehicles rushed to the scene to put out the fire. The rescue operation continued for almost four hours amidst heavy traffic jam on Kashmir Highway, adjacent to the Bazaar. Volunteers of Milli Muslim League also reached the spot to help the rescue officials. The shops selling leather and clothes were completely destroyed. Soon after the incident, a large number of stall-holders reached the sit and staged a protest demonstration against the Bazaar administration.

However, they dispersed peacefully after the city administration assured them to probe the incident.

The Emergency and Disaster Management Unit of the MCI had, in April 2018 asked the Director Municipal Administration and Bazaar administration to take measures to prevent such incidents in future. The E&DM unit had recommended a minimum of one fire extinguisher to be installed at each stall besides hose reel to be installed after every 100 feet.

The Unit had also recommended the Bazaar administration to install hydrants near each gate and construct an underground water tank dedicated to fire-fighting. Most importantly, the unit had advised the Bazaar administration that stalls are vacant during off days and firefighting staff to be deputed during Bazaar days. However, the Bazaar administration was apparently not complying with the instructions given to them by the advisory unit of the emergency and disaster management directorate from time to time.

It is to mention here that in August 2017, over 1,000 stalls were gutted as the bazaar went up in flames. The rescue officials had claimed the fire was caused by shopkeepers who set alight a pile of garbage close to the shops. The bazaar, located in Sector H-9 near Peshawar Morr, is frequented by scores of residents.

In November 2003, a fire had erupted at another Itwar Bazaar in sector G-6/1, which caused huge losses.