Lals Patisserie, which is famous for its chocolates, caught fire at Khayaban-e-Shahbaz branch, Karachi on Friday morning at 5:12am; however it is too early to know the real cause of the fire. According to multiple statements by the owner, they tried calling the fire brigade and Rescue 15 but received no response in return.
“If Rescue 15 is not answering then who are you supposed to call?” said Lals owner Madiha Sultan while speaking to the media.
According to her, the electrical fire started in the morning in an outlet connected to a coffee machine. At the time, there were only two people present at the shop; Watchman and Janitor.
The moment they saw the fire they immediately called the manager. After alerting the manager, the two employees tried to extinguish the fire by taking help from the security guards of neighboring stores.
In the meantime, the manager started calling Rescue 15 and the fire brigade but there was no response from any of them, Madiha said.
Madiha further said that, Lals was well-equipped to deal with fires. “Due to my own phobias, I have always insisted on keeping the bakery well-stocked in case of an emergency,” she said.
“Luckily, we were equipped with buckets, fire extinguishers and blankets. You just cannot rely on the emergency services.”
When they received no response from Rescue 15 or the fire brigade, the men were only left to fight with the flames on their own. And due to heavy winds, the fire had spread deeper into the shop.
“You can see sparks behind the coffee machine on the CCTV cameras. And soon enough you can spot a flame that starts behind the coffee machine, eventually swallowing it up, and slowly taking over the bar,” said Madiha.
“When I woke up this morning and got all these calls, I thought, well I could get a job but what about all these people who work here. What will happen to them? They will be jobless,” she said.
In her Facebook post, Madiha said:
“I feel incredibly lucky that the two men, Sultan and Saeen, our cleaner and night watchmen discovered this and scrambled to call everyone.”
According to them they were all waiting for the rescue team to show up and protect them from this tragic accident, but none of the numbers were answered.
Meanwhile, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) municipal service director Masood Alam stated that their emergency response number is 16 not 15 and it is functional round the clock. Only if the management of Lals knew the actual number to contact the rescue team, this wouldn’t have happened.
The place where the outlet is located is in Defence Housing Authority; the issue would have been addressed by the respective cantonment first only if the presence of mind was shown at the right time. KMC service director further stated that if they need any assistance, the KMC can provide them their services.
Although we do realize that they must have lost huge amount of stuff from their outlet, and we hope that Lals start their services soon; but one thing clearly shows that the management was unaware of the actual number and were dialing the wrong rescue number the whole time. Rescue 15 is of Sindh Police number while Emergency Fire Fighting Service’s number is 16. Before blaming the government, first try to dial up the right number and then come up with the conclusions as a single statement given throughout the media can create strong impact within no time. Thus, it is better to confirm the deeds first before going public and extremely vocal about it.