Soft wear & IT park in Islamabad catches fire. Two men killed

ISLAMABAD ( MEDIA REPORT )

A fire that broke out at the Softwear and information technology park Awami Markaz building in the Red Zone was contained late Sunday afternoon, the district government told Geo News. Sources tlod that three men died.

The fire which had reportedly been ‘cleared’ by the capital’s fire department on Sunday re-emerged before it was finally contained by the efforts of firefighters and the Pakistan Navy.

Two people were killed and at least five injured after the fire erupted initially in the morning.

The building, located close to the PTV headquarters and a five-star hotel, houses several private and government offices and was declared the Software Technology Park 1 earlier.

Initial reports stated that the fire erupted in the upper floors of the six-storey building, however, later officials said the fire began on the ground floor near an office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman. The record placed in the ombudsman’s office was also said to have been completely destroyed.

Rescue officials said the two people who died did not need to jump from the building as a fire exit was available. They added that the two worked at a call centre inside the building and were injured from the fall. They were shifted to separate hospitals but succumbed to their injuries.

Seven fire tenders were on site to douse the flames the first time around, according to rescue officials. The firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze in around an hour and later continued the ‘cooling efforts’ after which they left the venue.

However, sources said when rescue teams began going floor-by-floor, sparks led to another fire which was fanned by ongoing winds in the city.

Acting Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Farasat Khan, talking to Geo News, explained that when the cooling operation was under way on the third and fourth floors, the fire restarted after it received oxygen as the doors were opened by rescue staff.

“All measures are being taken to control the situation,” he assured.

Sources said the fire was reportedly caused by short-circuiting but investigations will determine the exact cause of the flames.

Two vehicles parked in the building’s parking area were also damaged as a result of the fire.

Rangers and police were on site to assist in rescue efforts when the incident occurred, according to sources.

Sources said the acting deputy commissioner of Islamabad has formed a three-member committee to probe the incident.

Dawn reported that two men, Ali Raza and Aijaz, were severely injured when, in order to save themselves from the fire, they jumped from the fourth floor of the building. They were transferred to a nearby hospital where Raza succumbed to his injuries. Aijaz remains in a critical condition, according to rescue sources.

Another man, Waqar Ali, was pulled out from the fire by rescue personnel but he also succumbed to his injuries upon reaching the hospital.

According to rescue officials, the offices of government ombudsmen inside the building were completely destroyed in the fire.

Minister for Industries and Production Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi as well as the the District magistrate Islamabad ordered the formation of separate high-level committees to investigate the issue; additional secretary for industries and production, and the additional deputy commissioner (East) will chair the respective committees.

The building housed the Centre of Excellence-China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which sparked rumours that important documents relating to the project had been burnt.

Denying the rumours, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that “no CPEC record has been destroyed in Awami Markaz fire.”

“There is a small research unit, the record of which is in digital mode and is safe,” he said quoting the Planning, Development and Reform division.