LAHORE  - Three labourers were burnt alive after a massive blaze broke out at a three-storey plaza in Bakkar Mandi on Bund Road Wednesday, rescuers said.

Firefighters cited short-circuit as the reason for the blaze in two-Marla ‘Mian and Sons’ hardware store at 11:20am. In minutes, the fire engulfed the three-storey building having furnace oil, chemicals, paints, and hardware tools. Several explosions were heard in the area, trigging panic among the residents. After two-hour battle, a 17-fireman fleet put out the fire.

The deceased, were identified as Azhar Hussain, 30, and Waqar, 23, and Irfan, 17. The bodies were handed over to to the bereaved families.  Nawan Kot Police detained plaza owner Mian Shafique for interrogation. According to police, they launched investigation.

According to a handout, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives and sought a report from the authorities concerned. Expressing sympathies with the families of the deceased, the chief minister prayed to Allah Almighty to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved bereaved families to bear the irreparable loss with fortitude.

Similar handouts followed the September 2012 tragedy in which more than two dozen people were burnt alive in a factory fire on Bund Road in Shafiqabad Police precincts, just 15-minute drive from the Wednesday’s tragic site. After each such mishap, ‘dead’ authorities leapt to show sympathy with the victim families, pledging to enforce safety laws.