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Police: workers lacked fire equipment in tower blaze

Police have cited a lack of basic fire-fighting equipment on site as contributing to the severity of a fire in the Al Rayyana development in Khalifa City A.

ABU DHABI // Police said a lack of basic fire-fighting equipment on site was partly to blame for a blaze that damaged four towers under construction in Khalifa City yesterday. The fire began at about 12.30pm in a tower in Al Rayyana development in Khalifa City A, before spreading to three adjacent towers. The wooden beams on what was believed to be the 10th floor caught fire and two levels of the building were consumed by the blaze. The fire spread quickly and could have been less serious if fire safety equipment was in place rather and workers properly trained, a police spokesman said. "It started off as a small fire on the roof of one of the towers and the workers could have been able to fight it but they didn't have the right equipment there," he said. "If they were properly trained in this and had the right equipment it could have been contained." A statement issued by Sorouh, the developer, said: "The fire was detected at the top of one tower during a mandatory routine safety inspection by the safety team and the alarm was raised immediately and the Civil Defence authorities alerted." Senior personnel from Sorouh, Pivot, the contractor and Turner, the project management company were on site within 10 minutes of the alarm being raised, according to the statement. There was also no water available near the site for the fire engines to use and the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence had to send its own water tankers. Sorouh, Turner, and Pivot, also provided 10 water tankers to assist Civil Defence. The wind, which constantly changed direction, also helped spread the fire to the other towers according to the police spokesman. By 1pm yesterday, eight different fire fighting crews were at the scene including Abu Dhabi Civil Defence and Abu Dhabi Police's emergency response team. Fire engines with cherry pickers helped contain the fire. "All my colleagues started shouting and running for it when the first tower caught fire," said one worker on the site. "It then spread very quickly to the other ones. Luckily, no one was hurt." The police said it would start an investigation into the cause of the blaze. A Sorouh spokesperson said: "We can thank our safety standards and well-trained personnel for the lack of injuries and the containment of the fire." eharnan@thenational.ae

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