Fire in prime building in Pakistan's capital doused

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A firefighter tries to extinguish a fire on a prime building in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, Oct. 9, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Firefighters had extinguished the fire in the Pakistani capital Islamabad's Centaurus, a prime building consisting of a major shopping mall and elite residential apartments, after about three-hour long operation on Sunday afternoon, officials said.

In a conversation with Xinhua, Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Irfan Nawaz Memon confirmed that all people inside the multi-story building were evacuated and the mall, located from the ground to the fourth floor of the building, will be cordoned off for at least one day.

He said that there is a lot of expensive stuff in each shop of the mall and some people may take advantage of the situation, so entry into the mall has been restricted for the public.

Eyewitnesses of the fire accident told Xinhua that the fire erupted at about 3:45 p.m. local time apparently due to a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant on the fourth floor of the building, creating panic among the people who rushed toward the elevators to evacuate the building.

"I was shopping on the first floor when I heard people screaming and rushing down from the elevators. There was a lot of noise when I saw the fire in the food court. I also rushed to the exit doors in panic," Khalid Ameer, an eyewitness told Xinhua.

Ameer said that the fire was not so serious when he left the building and the people including a large number of kids, who were in the play area of the mall on the fourth floor, were lucky that all exit doors of the building were clear from fire or smoke, and they safely exited without being trapped.

The deputy commissioner said that the fire initially broke out at the food court and later was spreading toward the residential apartments on the upper floors, but was doused in time due to good planning of the firefighters.

"One team tried to extinguish the fire from outside. Another team entered the mall and doused fire from the inside, while the third used crane to extinguish the fire from the height," he added.

Sources from the police told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the main duct of the building that starts from the base to the top was also on fire as the fire spread to the upper floors, but it was quickly contained.

Located in the heart of Islamabad, the Centaurus Mall is a 361-feet tall skyscraper with three equal-sized towers and 26 floors.

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