Hafeez Centre, a plaza otherwise almost perpetually surrounded by customers, was engulfed in flames on Sunday morning as firefighters struggled to put out the massive fire.
Almost 12 hours after, the fire still rages on.
Initially, eyewitnesses report, the fire broke out on the second floor of the Hafeez Centre and eventually spread to the fourth floor.
According to rescue officials, an initial survey suggests that the fire broke out due to a short circuit and that a definite reason could only be given after the report was submitted.
In response to the magnitude of the fire, a number of officials from the local administration arrived at the site. Lahore Commissioner Zulfiqar Ghuman, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Mudassir Riaz Malik and Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umar Sheikh were among the ones to arrive.
CCPO Sheikh has said that 25 people have been rescued from the building and there are no reports of casualties so far.
“Workers from Rescue 1122 and fire department are present at the site and are working on putting out the fire. Snorkels are also present and all resources will be utilised,” he said.
Sheikh further reassured the people, saying that he would lead the investigation himself.
However, marketeers at Hafeez Centre estimated colossal losses ranging from Rs. 2.5 billion to Rs. 3 billion with almost 300 shops being adversely affected.
Following the fire, the Punjab government formed a fact finding committee comprising of approximately 14 members with Deputy Commissioner Lahore as its convener.
The committee includes officials from Metropolitan Corporation of Lahore (MCL) and Rescue 1122 and will determine the underlying causes of the fire incident along with the amount of losses and damages incurred.
“Priority should be given to rescuing people stuck inside [the building],” said Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.