LAHORE: Three minor sisters were burnt alive when a fire erupted in their small house in Ichhra because of short-circuiting due to sudden restoration of power supply after an unscheduled outage on Wednesday. Scarcity of water in the area – also because of absence of electricity – frustrated efforts of locals to control the blaze quickly. Local also decried what appeared in circumstances an unusually late response by Rescue 1122 service to the fire emergency, as rescuers reached the scene more than one hour after being informed about the incident at about 11am.
A number of men, women and children gathered at the spot after the tragic incident. But, no government official or political personality visited the spot. The district coordination officer (DCO) visited the spot after an inordinate delay of about nine hours upon which charged locals chanted slogans against the government. They did not allow the DCO to visit the burnt house in the first instance. However, after intervention by some of locals, the DCO was allowed to visit the scene. The police said that Mohammad Saleem, a carpenter, and his wife Shabnam were not present in their third-floor house in Zaildar Park.
Shabnam had gone to bazaar along with her elder daughter Meerab after locking the door of the house from outside, leaving her younger daughters – four-year-old Khadeja, three-year-old Noor Fatima and two-year-old Aliya – sleeping in a room.
Local said that they did not notice the fire because it erupted on the upper storey of the building. They entered the house after breaking the door open and shifted the burnt girls to Services Hospital on a self-help basis. They had to face another problem, as water was not available in the area to extinguish the fire and they had to buy mineral water bottles to put out the flames.
Khadeja and Aliya were pronounced dead upon arrival while Noor Fatima succumbed to her burns during what appeared in circumstances entropic treatment provided to her.
She was first shifted from Services Hospital to Burns Unit of Mayo Hospital from where she was rushed back to Services Hospital after Mayo authorities allegedly refused to admit the three-year-old.
A local said that the fire broke out at around 10:54am and the locals informed the Rescue 1122 at around 11am. However, the rescue teams reached the spot at 12:22pm.
Locals strongly condemned the Rescue 1122 and said that rescuers did not reach the spot despite repeated calls were made to the service control room. They demanded the higher authorities to look into the negligence of the Rescue 1122.
They also demanded an action against Services and Mayo doctors for making the burnt girl a “shuttlecock” between the two top infirmaries of the city.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has, however, expressed sorrow and grief over the death of three children.
According to a handout, the chief minister sought a report from the administration and also sympathised with the bereaved family.
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