A fire that broke out at a building in Karachi’s Zainab Market on Wednesday noon continued to rage for five hours as crew with over a dozen fire engines battled the flames. It was extinguished only around 5pm, but the cooling process continued until 9:15pm, according to fire officials.
A large number of shops and warehouses were gutted. However, the losses could be estimated only after the building is cleared by the officials. At least two fire engines were still on standby near Zainab Market on Wednesday night, SAMAA Digital‘s Aamir Majeed reported.
The fire comes just two days after a blaze gutted several shops at the Cooperative Market located nearby.
Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the upper floors of the multi-storey Victoria Centre Wednesday noon.
The buildings at Zainab market house garment shops on the ground and lower floors. The upper floors are used either as warehouses or wholesale shops.
Police and fire brigade officers arrived on the spot and, using megaphones, instructed the shop keepers to vacate the area.
KMC Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Mubeen Ahmed told SAMAA Digital that 14 fire engines and a snorkel fire truck continued to battle the blaze hours after it was first reported.
He added that the firefighters were able to bring the fire under control, but it could not be extinguished until five hours later.
Fire officials later said that the fire was extinguished around 5pm and the cooling process lasted until 9:15pm.
However, they said, smoke was still emitting from the shops by 10pm and two fire engines were parked near the market on Wednesday night.
Blaze spreads through closed shops
Mubeen said the fire started from the top floor of the building.
He said many of the shops had not yet opened in the morning when the fire broke out and the blaze spread through clothes in closed shops. The firefighters were cutting the locks of the shops, he said.
The CFO said that the shopkeepers had also dumped clothes on stairs leading to the affected floor of the building and it was difficult to move from the lower floor to the higher floor.
Zainab Market and Cooperative Market are located on Abdullah Haroon Road in the Saddar area.
The traffic police, meanwhile, has provided diversions and directed the traffic through alternative routes. Abdullah Haroon Road is one of the busiest arteries in the city centre.
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A huge fire raged through the Cooperative Market on Sunday and gutted at least 35 shops completely and damaged many other. The chief fire officer of the city said he suspected arson behind the fire.
Sindh CM orders investigation
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has taken notice of the fire at Victoria Centre, a statement from the CM House said.
The CM has ordered Karachi Commissioner and KMC Administrator to conduct an inquiry into the incident to find out the cause of the fire, according to the statement.