ABU DHABI // A Pakistani driver just days away from returning to his homeland lost all the gifts he had bought for his family when a fire tore through a flat yesterday. No one was hurt in the blaze. While Tariq Fazal, 38, made his escape from the fire that began in the fourth-floor flat that he was occupying near Al Wahda Mall, the gifts - including three mobile phones and grocery bags full of food - were destroyed.
"What I will bring is all gone," he said through a friend, who translated into English. Mr Fazal said he had been asleep around 9.30am in the five-storey building across the road from the mall when a friend shook him awake. He and about 100 other residents left the building via a stairwell, but flames tore through the room where he had been sleeping. Some fifth-floor residents ran to the roof for safety, said a fireman at the scene.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, though some residents of the building said they believed it may have started in a window air-conditioner unit. One of the firemen said the blaze was the second to strike the building in two days. Mr Fazal said the fire had consumed all of his clothing except for what he was wearing. The blaze also destroyed four beds in one of three bedrooms and a kitchenette just off the living room, but fire crews contained it to the flat. Residents were allowed back into the building around 11.30am.
Mr Fazal said he had been living in Dubai and working there as a driver for a private transport company. He cancelled his work visa a few days ago and was spending a few days at the building in Abu Dhabi before returning to Pakistan. He said his passport and airline ticket were safe elsewhere and he would fly home on Thursday. Gajmul Said, a taxi driver from Pakistan who has lived on the fourth floor of the block for five years, said he and his flatmates did not know where they would live now.
"Where will we stay now? This is our house," he said. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org