KARACHI - The largest Timber Market of the country has gutted into fire in Purana Haji Camp area on Sunday.
The timber market houses several commercial shops and warehouses where timber is stored for the furniture manufacturing industry is Pakistan’s biggest market. The market has almost 800 shops and 200 warehouses.
The fire broke in one of the shops at around 1:00am, late Saturday night. Though the firefighters were timely informed about the fire but they could not reach the site and started operation on time. They faced problems due to congested streets and close proximity of other buildings in the locality, however, they managed to control the blazes after the hectic efforts of 12 hours but nothing was saved from being burnt.
Fortunately, no loss of life was reported in the fire but wood worth millions of rupees has completely been gutted. According to the fire brigade officials, initially six fire tenders were moved to the site but as the fire was declared ‘third-degree fire’, more fire brigade vehicles from across the city were called.
According to Chief Fire Officer Ehtishamuddin Siddiqui, 45 vehicles including bowsers and a snorkel while several other fire brigade vehicles from the KPT, DHA and navy participated in the operation. He said normally it was not an easy job to douse the fire immediately in such circumstances where a huge quantity of wood, steel, chemicals are stored and spreading rapidly due to speedy breeze. He said the cause of the fire had yet to be ascertained. “An inquiry is being conducted to ascertain the actual cause of the fire and to ascertain the actual loss or damages,” he added.
The affected shopkeepers had nothing to say. A dealer Zakir said this fire is not limited to only my shop but it has burnt me and my family’s future. “My shop was being burnt in front of me and I could not do anything to save my children’s future.”
According to the Timber Market Association’s office-bearers, the market association has also decided not to open the markets in the city until the government compensates the affected shopkeepers. “We will hold a press conference on Monday (today) along with all traders and associations of Karachi where we will make announcement to close the business activities in Karachi until the government compensates the affected traders,” they vowed.
Association resident Suleman Soomro claimed that around 250 shops and 50 godowns have been turned into ashes because of the negligence of the fire brigade department. “When we called the fire brigade department and informed them about the fire, they replied they did not have diesel.”
They gave an excuse of water shortage after we provided them diesel then they excused us of pipes. Finally we also provided them water, he claimed. “At least one hour delay by the fire brigade department, in the beginning, helped engulfing the entire market and the surrounding buildings.”
Though a committee has been formed to ascertain the losses but roughly, the fire gutted at least 250 shops, 50 godowns and several houses on around 13 residential-cum-commercial buildings.
PM EXPRESSES GRIEF
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed grief and sorrow over the eruption of fire in Karachi timber market. In a statement on Sunday afternoon, he asked the provincial government and relevant departments to take steps to make sure that such tragedies are avoided in future.