Five people, including two women, were burnt to death when a fire broke out in a neighbourhood in Kohat’s Surgul. Six others were injured in the blaze.
The incident took place around 6am when most of the residents were awake to say their Fajr prayers. The deceased and injured were shifted to nearby hospitals for medico-legal formalities and treatment respectively.
Residents say the fire started after a broken high tension wire, which has been hanging for several days, fell on several houses, trapping the residents in their homes. They said several complaints had been filed about the wire, requesting the authorities to repair or change it, but no action was taken. The wire fell on a transformer, spreading high voltage currents for around 15 minutes, the residents said.
But the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) has another story to tell. It says lightning caused the fire. A lightning bolt struck the transformer and spread the fire, they say.
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Dodging SAMAA TV's question on why Pesco failed to address the residents' complaints about the high tension wire, Pesco CEO Dr Mohammad Amjad Khan said, "I can tell you from the reports we have received so far that, let's say even if a wire does get disconnected, the effect can't be of this magnitude. This kind of damage can only be because of lightning. There was rain and thunder in the area too. We are 90% sure this was the result of lightning and not a faulty fire or transformer."
When asked again why Pesco failed to respond to the complaints, Khan blatantly denied even the possibility of the transformer being damaged before the fire. He claimed the fire is what damaged the transformer. "I obviously can't stop a thunderstorm," he said, distancing himself from taking any responsibility for the incident.
SAMAA TV's Peshawar bureau chief Tariq Afaq said the Pesco chief's statement was only to hide the company's negligence. "Google the weather conditions of Surgul. It is not possible there was a thunderstorm or lightning in these weather conditions," he said, adding that Pesco had no system to keep a record of complaints.
He said the incident took place around 6am, but Pesco's team reached the scene around three hours later at 9am. "This is also negligence on their part," he said. Afaq believes the country's government institutions needed to own up to their mistakes if we wanted to avoid such incidents in the future.
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