After forest fires, we are in the midst of urban fires – the fire at residential buildings, the fire at commercial buildings and the fire at government offices. Of them, some were deliberate fires and some broke out accidently but in either case, it has emerged that our firefighting system is poor and needs to be upgraded. For example, the fire that broke out near Jail Chowrangi in Karachi could not be brought under control even after the passage of two days. This incident highlights the burning questions of the need for new comprehensive legislation and arrangements. A few years ago, a fire broke out in several areas of the Saddar areas of Karachi, while last year, the fire also engulfed the Cooperative Market in Karachi and Hafeez Centre in Lahore. A few months ago, the super store – Pace Tower – in Gulberg of Lahore also burnt to ashes. The fire in the basement warehouse of the super store on Jail Road on Wednesday was of the third degree which is considered very dangerous. The fire spread from the ground floor to the mezzanine floor. It is said that all the vehicles and equipment of the fire brigade in Karachi city are not enough to control the third degree fire. The blaze was reportedly contained on Wednesday night, and earlier the cloud of smoke could not be contained because the entrance and exit routes to the source of the fire were limited. One person is said to have died of suffocation as a result of the fire. According to the assistant commissioner of Ferozabad, the damaged building will be demolished as it is unfit for usage. When this editorial is being written, we learn that a fire broke out in a public hospital of Lahore. This is so unfortunate. The fire broke out in the medicine store, thankfully a bit away from the patient areas.
In international cities like Karachi and Lahore, it is a matter of concern that the administration could not control the fire of a common building in two days, while the city has been turned into a vast jungle of multi-storied buildings selling for crores of rupees. Instead of providing parking space for most of the flats, the space is sold to supermarkets or other establishments. There is an urgent need to provide shelter to the occupants of the building while enacting new comprehensive legislation to protect human lives and property and create a strict system of monitoring and enforcement.