SHARJAH // Hundreds of shoppers and staff were evacuated from one of the emirate's biggest malls on Wednesday afternoon after a fire broke out at the entrance. The Mega Mall in Abu Shagara was closed for the rest of the day after the electronic sign board bearing the arcade's name went up in flames at about 4.30pm. Fire fighters had the blaze under control within an hour and no casualties were reported. Although they managed to prevent the flames from spreading to the shops, some retailers said their stock had been damaged by the heavy smoke.
Several shoppers reported hearing a loud "bang" when the sign caught fire. The exact cause is being investigated. Col Marwan bu Afrah, a Civil Defence official, said: "We are very grateful to the mall officials in the way they evacuated their tenants. Fire fighters arrived in five minutes after the fire started and there were hardly any shoppers or shop attendants still in the mall." Thick smoke engulfed the mall, and traffic came to a standstill as police closed several roads around the mall to allow emergency vehicles easier access.
Marriecar Zarimenya, who runs a clothes shop, said most of her stock had been discoloured by the smoke. "I don't know what I can do, I cannot wash the clothes, I cannot remove the smoke, they are new clothes and all I can hope for are huge losses," she said. Abdullah al Khamis, marketing and events coordinator at Mega Mall, said losses from the fire would be minimal as it had not been allowed to spread. He believed it may have been started by an electrical short circuit when the sign board overheated in the intense sun. firstname.lastname@example.org