ISLAMABAD: Two persons were killed and five others injured in a huge fire that erupted at the Awami Markaz at around 7:30am on Sunday. The fire completely damaged the building, making it inhabitable.
The five-storey building, situated close to the PTV Headquarters and a five-star hotel on the Constitution Avenue, housed several private and government offices, including a key research unit of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) named CPEC Centre of Excellence.
“We informed the CDA at 7am but no one listened to us; it’s a culpable negligence. The fire would have been brought under control if officials concerned had taken our request seriously,” said Saleem Ahmed, a local government official.
He said the residents of Gulshan-e-Jinnah Colony reported the incident to the CDA and NDMA at around 9am but only CDA fire extinguishers reached the spot by 11am.According to initial reports, the fire erupted on the upper floors of the building; however, later it began on the ground floor near an office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman.
The record placed in the ombudsman’s office was completely destroyed. A part of the Privatization Commission’s record was also burnt, but a senior official claimed that he had shifted all the files at around 8am after files at around 8am after they came to know about the fire.
Initial reports suggested that the fire was caused by a short-circuit but investigations will determine the exact cause of incident. Two vehicles parked in the building’s parking area were also damaged.
More than 200 Navy, police and Rangers personnel were also on the scene to assist in rescue efforts, according to sources. The anti-fire equipment was almost burnt. Even three of seven CDA vehicles were found out of order on the spot, said Adnan Ahmed, a local who lived near the building.