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Fire breaks out in KU

Karachi, Aug 1: A fire erupted in the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) substation 2, near the Departments of Marine Biology and Mathematics, University of Karachi (KU), at 11.20 a.m. on Tuesday. Fire engines from Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Gulshan-e-Mustafa and New Karachi Fire Stations arrived at the scene at 12.10 p.m. and controlled it.

The overheating, due to load on the electric cables caused the fire, which in a chain reaction, raised the temperature of the furnace oil in the PMT at the substation. The boiling oil expanded and the PMT exploded with a bang. The sound was heard more than 400 metres away.

The fire exposed the carelessness of university officials and the unprofessional attitude of the firemen. Arman Ahmed with KU's Security Office said that he called the fire station at 11.30 a.m. but the first fire engine arrived at 12.10 p.m. Some firemen were in slippers and they put on their boots after getting down from the fire engine in a leisurely manner. Another fireman was busy with his helmet. None of them seemed in a hurry to begin the fire-extinguishing process. It was after a full five minutes that they began dousing the fire that leapt out with dark, dense smoke. The water pipes had holes in many places. The second engine appeared after 20 minutes but its crew was clueless about their duty. The students and staff of the university advised them to start their operation from the other end but they just loitered there and began dousing the fire after the lapse of a considerable amount of time.

The arrival of Muhammad Naeem Yousuf, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, brought some sanity to the scene as he managed the operation professionally and got the firemen to work ably.

The installation in the substation was gutted and the power supply to the faculties, Dr Mahmud Hussain Library and the Administration building, was disrupted and could not be restored till the filing of this report. The university has issued a circular urging teachers and staff to use generators for essential work and advised them not to run air-conditioners on it.

One could not help but notice the absence of top university officials at the scene. It was a quite a while later that Dr Muhammad Qaisar of the Crisis Management Committee of the university arrived at the scene. The news
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