LAKKI MARWAT - Over a dozen shops and nearly one hundred makeshift outlets gutted when fire suddenly broke out in Darra Pezu bazaar, police and eyewitnesses said.

They said that fire erupted in the busiest market and it engulfed the entire city bazaar in no time. It completely destroyed 15 shops and nearly one hundred makeshift outlets on Bannu-DI Khan and Tank roads.

A local PTI leader Hakim Asghar said that grocery shops, vegetable, fruit and cold drinks outlets and goods worth millions of rupees turned to ashes. Residents from Pezu city and adjacent villages rushed to bazaar when they saw huge flames and smoke billowing out of the markets, he maintained.

Another resident said that the huge fire turned the entire city bazaar into a place of destruction and wreckage besides spreading blankets of gloom over Pezu town. He said the daily vendors lost everything and that the fire deprived them from the only source of earning.

An eyewitness said that fire also destroyed a pickup truck and an auto rickshaw loaded with goods and foodstuffs.

The traders were seen looking helplessly at the flames eating up the goods and daily use articles in their shops. Some of them tried to put out the fast spreading fire but in vain.

"What can we do except watching our destruction with own eyes", a shopkeeper said with tears rolling down his eyes. He said that the business community was unable to control the fire and reduce the destruction caused by it.

Water tankers from the nearby Lucky cement factory first reached the traders in trouble and started operation to extinguish the fire. Later fire trucks from Lakki, Naurang and DI Khan also joined them to control the fire and rescue the trapped people and shopkeepers. Pak army jawans and area police personnel also reached the area to help the traders in distress and control the fire so to minimize its losses. A police official said that the fire had badly affected the business community of the town as it caused loss of over Rs 40 million on them.

Local Deputy Commissioner Ihsanullah Khan, DPO Ali Akbar Shah and AC Sher Alam Khan along with officials and staffers of concerned departments visited Darra Pezu town and inspected the burnt shops and outlets to assess loss. They assured that the government would extend all out support to the affected businessmen.

Meanwhile, Jamia Halimia administrator Mufti Abdul Ghani told journalists that a meeting had been convened today (Sunday) at the residence of district councillor-elect from Darra Pezu ward Haji Abdul Rauf in Shahbazkhel village after Iftar to devise a strategy for the rehabilitation and compensation of fire hit traders of the town.