Seven charred in fire at construction company's office

* Rescuers manage to evacuate several people trapped inside the burning building * Some victims fighting for their lives at hospitals

Seven charred in fire at construction company's office

LAHORE: At least seven people were burnt to death while eight others sustained burn injures when a massive fire broke out at a construction company's office near Mehmood Booti Interchange in the Manawan police limits on Wednesday.

According to rescuers, the fire engulfed the entire building within minutes. Upon being informed, rescuers and firefighters reached the spot and controlled the fire after hours of hectic efforts. The rescuers also managed to evacuate dozens of people trapped inside the office.

The bodies were shifted to the city morgue, while others with burn injuries were taken to Kot Khawaja Saeed Hospital and Shalamar Hospital, where several victims were said to be fighting for their lives. Investigators are yet to ascertain the exact cause of fire, but rescuers said it could be a result of a short circuit or cylinder explosion. A large number of locals and officers of the departments concerned also reached the spot and started inquiring about the incident.

Rescuers and police said that around 40 workers were present in the building at the time of the incident. They said that most of the people managed to escape as soon as the fire broke out, however, those affected were sleeping on the third floor of the building after working in the night shift. The victims included Aslam Shah, Abdul Khalid, Abrar, Saud, Kaleemullah Nasir, Naeem, Amjad, Yousaf, Abid, Ramzan, Naveed, Samiur Rehman and Muhammad Abbas.

Official data shows that more than 3,390 fires were reported in Lahore between January and December 2016, in which 26 lives were lost and 219 victims sustained burn injuries.

Property and valuables worth more than Rs 911 million were damaged in 854 fire incidents in commercial and 1,058 residential areas.

According to details, five members of a family died in Lohari Gate area on January 14 last year when the house of a fruit seller in Jhanda Bazaar caught fire. A man, his wife, their two sons, a daughter and their aunt were burnt alive when a fire broke out while they were sleeping on the fourth floor of a building. Three teenage workers were killed when the boiler of a bakery exploded in Shahpur Kanjran, Chung, on September 17. Workers were boiling milk at the production unit when the explosion took place. On November 10, three workers were burnt alive inside a garment factory in Shafiqabad.

According to Rescue 1122 spokesperson Jam Sajjad Hussain, violation of building bylaws and ignoring safety protocols were the main reason behind fire incidents. Bylaws state that proper fire extinguishing and sprinkling systems must be installed inside every building, and maps should be pasted outside the building to help the firefighters in their rescue operations.