'Explosion heard' before the fire that gutted 35 shops
A fire erupted in the Cooperative Market in Karachi's Saddar area on Sunday afternoon engulfing the market and causing heavy financial losses.
Karachi Chief Fire officers says he suspects arson behind the blaze, which, according to some reports, started after an "explosion."
The fire department declared it a "third-degree" fire and enlisted help from other government agencies including Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, and the Karachi Port Trust to take part in the firefighting operation, SAMAA Digital's Aamir Majeed reported.
At least four fire engines were initially called in to respond to the fire which proved no less than an inferno. The number of fire engines later increased to ten, says Majeed.
The fire was contained after several hours but had not been extinguished completely.
No loss of life was reported.
Talking to Samaa Digital, KMC Fire Brigade's Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Mubeen Ahmed said he suspected that the blaze did not start accidentally, and instead the market was set on fire.
Explaining his statement, the CFO said that the fire did not break out in only one area of the market, but rather started in many parts at once.
Mubeen was not the only official to talk about suspected arson.
Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon, who arrived at the scene, said authorities would investigate reports that an explosion was heard before the fire started.
Speaking to journalists, he said the blaze had 'completely gutted' 35 shops out of 350 located in the market.
He said the fire was under control and the "cooling process" had begun.
Sharing details of the firefighting operation, CFO Mubeen said fire tenders from Saddar Fire Station and headquarter in Civic Centre were immediately dispatched to the site after the department received report of the fire.
"Later fire trucks from all over the city were called in to take part in firefighting operation," he added.
Fire trucks from Pakistan Navy and KPT also took part in the operation, he said adding that the fire was under control but not extinguished.
He maintained that the market was dealing in clothes and electronics and it is difficult to completely extinguish fire where fabric is involved.
Earlier, SAMAA TV broadcasted images from outside the multi-storey market, showing the entrances to the building completely engulfed in flames and smoke.
Fire fighters were seen trying to douse out the flames.
The Cooperative Market houses several shops selling clothes in one section and electronic products in the other. The section that was on fire housed mainly clothe shops.
Dejected shop owners were seen milling around the market and trying to put out the fire. They complained that fire engines were late to arrive and then ran out of water.
A shop owners estimated the losses at "millions of rupees worth."
Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab also arrived at the spot. He met with the traders and said authorities would estimate the losses once the cooling process is completed.
Cooperative Market is located on Abdullah Haroon Road near the Regal Chowk in Saddar.
Footage from SAMAA TV showed bikers and passersby hurriedly leaving the area as the intensity of the fire increased after the sun set.
Earlier, journalist Afzal Nadeem Dogar shared a video on twitter showing huge plumes of smoke rising in the air.
A big fire broke out in the cooperative market near Regal Chowk in Saddar, the busiest business area of Karachi. Fire brigade has been called from all over the city. @DMCSindhPolice #Karachi #FireSark pic.twitter.com/B6dlSaXgJ9— Afzal Nadeem Dogar (@GeoDogar) November 14, 2021