Lahore shopkeepers incur losses worth millions of rupees
The massive fire at Lahore's Hafeez Centre was doused after 15 hours. Estimates suggest that at least 800 shops have been reduced to ashes, while shopkeepers have incurred losses of millions of rupees.
The four-storey building is the biggest market for mobile phones and computers in Lahore. Three storeys of the building have been completely destroyed.
Currently, the cooling process is underway. Rescue 1122 spokesperson Farooq Ahmed has said that the plaza will be cleared in another three to four hours after which it will be sealed.
The cause of the fire has yet to be ascertained but authorities have been speculating that it may have been caused by a short-circuit.
Forty-year-old Fayyaz Ahmed couldn't hold back his tears after he heard about the fire. "I have lost everything. I have nothing left now," he said as he looked at the burnt building.
Ahmed owned a laptop and computer shop on the fourth floor of the plaza. He said that the shop was his only source of income and he doesn't know how he will be able to overcome the heavy losses.
"Many shopkeepers don't have any insurance," said another shopkeeper. "We never anticipated this." He remarked that the shopkeepers don't know how they will earn a living if the government doesn't compensate them. "Is there anyone who will listen to us?"
Following the fire, many shopkeepers reached the site and some even tried to enter the plaza to save whatever equipment they could get their hands on.
There were insufficient facilities at the building to control a fire, said another person who owned a shop at the plaza. There were no fire alarms or sprinklers to help douse the fire.
Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid visited the site on Sunday on the instructions of CM Usman Buzdar. The shopkeepers surrounded her and chanted slogans against the government.
She assured them that the government will compensate them for their losses.