Three people died and two others were injured as a devastating fire engulfed the Arshi shopping mall in Karachi's Ayesha Manzil area on Wednesday evening.
The six-storey building comprised two commercial floors (ground and mezzanine) while the remaining four were residential. The inferno was so intense that black smoke billowing into the sky could be seen from kilometres away.
Several people were trapped inside the residential building above the shops - who were later rescued.
The fire prompted K-Electric to cut power for safety reasons, and their staff was on-site to assist rescue officials.
Casualties and damage
Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab confirmed the tragic loss of three lives in the devastating fire at Arshi Mall. Two people who sustained burn injuries were under treatment.
Additionally, the fire severely impacted approximately 100 shops, warehouses, and flats.
The shopkeepers expressed their anguish and stated that their entire stock had been burned to the ground. They demanded financial compensation from the government for their losses.
The inferno that erupted around 5:47pm was declared 'third degree'.
It originated in a clothes shop and rapidly spread to neighbouring stores of foam and furniture.
Rescue 1122 director stated that approximately 300 individuals had been evacuated from the building.
How it started?
A worker at the market claimed the fire started from a gas cylinder in a clothes shop.
According to him, shopkeepers in the affected shop immediately rushed to grab water to extinguish it. But unfortunately, the flames spread rapidly before they could contain it.
Sindh Interim Chief Minister (CM) Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar ordered an inquiry into the incident and set up a monitoring committee led by Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Saleem Rajput, according to CM's spokesperson.
This committee's main goal is to figure out why the fire happened and identify any negligence that might have caused it. The report submission deadline is three days.
The CM stressed the need to understand both the reasons behind the fire and who is responsible.
Chief Fire Officer, Ishtiaq Ahmed, stated that seven fire brigade vehicles, a snorkel, and a water bowser were deployed to the scene to extinguish the inferno.
Rescue teams swiftly mobilized to evacuate residents trapped within the flats above the burning shops.
SSP Central Faisal Abdullah provided additional details, revealing that the fire started in a clothes shop and quickly spread to nearby stores, escalating into a major conflagration.
Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab stated that additional fire brigade vehicles had been dispatched to the scene, and the primary focus was on minimizing human casualties in the ongoing fire incident.