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Early-morning apartment fire puts five people in hospital

Five people are taken to hospital, one of them critically ill, after an early-morning blaze in a block of flats on Hamdan Street.

ABU DHABI // Five people were taken to hospital yesterday, one of them critically ill, after an early-morning blaze in a block of flats on Hamdan Street. Residents were awakened at 5.30am by smoke alarms triggered by a fire on the 10th floor of Al Yousef Centre, a combined business and residential tower. The cause of the blaze remained under investigation yesterday.

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City's emergency department confirmed that it had received up to five people who were being treated for breathing problems. The family occupying the apartment where the fire is believed to have originated was unavailable for comment. Allan Pogoy, a Filipino living next door said he was "traumatised" by the experience. "My roommate opened the main door, and smoke came in," he said. "I said: 'Relax; let's take our important things, our passports and the laptops'."

Mr Pogoy said he stumbled out of the apartment into a dark hallway. "There was no electricity," he said. "It was very scary. There was supposed to be an emergency light. It was supposed to be there." The hallway was still in darkness just before noon as police swept the area. The combination of smoke and lack of light complicated the residents' descent to the ground floor, he added. "The fire was a few metres away from us, but we couldn't see where it was.

"We got some wet towels and covered our faces." Witnesses said fire brigade units brought the blaze under control in about 30 minutes. Police and ambulance crews also responded. A security helicopter circled over the locality for a while, witnesses said. "The entire country was here," said Rami Ahmed, who lives on the building's second floor and works at a bakery on the ground floor. The fire occurred just a week after the end of Ramadan, when police in the capital urged residents at the beginning of Eid to be vigilant against fires while cooking or burning incense.

Last month in Al Ain, a woman and two young children died in a residential fire that officials said at the time may have been connected to an electrical fault or the burning of incense. kshaheen@thenational.ae

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