ABU DHABI // Emergency crews are still battling a major fire which broke out in the Port Zayed area of Abu Dhabi this morning, destroying four warehouses and injuring three workers.
The flames, fanned by windy conditions, quickly spread through the wooden warehouses located near the Toys R Us store off 20th Street.
The workers were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene before being taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The fire began around 8.15am in a building that housed sponge used for furniture, said Mohsen Hankar, general manager of Emirates Ceramic, which is based in one of the warehouses. The flames then engulfed an adjacent warehouse containing cartons, he told The National at the scene.
"The problem is the warehouses are situated so close together their walls are made of highly flammable fibre and they are filled with carton boxes, great fuel for fire," said Saeed Abdelminaam, a sales executive at Emirates Ceramic.
An explosion in one of the burning warehouses was heard at 11am.
Water tankers were still rolling into the area late this afternoon to fill fire trucks, which had first arrived with an emergency helicopter shortly after 8.30am. A plume of black smoke hovered over the capital for most of the day.
General Director of Civil Defence, Colonel Jumaa Al Dehmani, said the building and other flammable materials stored in the warehouses had contributed to the rapid ignition of the buildings. Al Dehmani appealed to factory owners to store flammable materials carefully, to keep buildings clean and to maintain their fire systems, especially during the summer months.
Azizul Khandaker, a loss adjuster for the insurer Whitelaw, said fires were usually caused by an electrical short circuit or a discarded cigarette, and the warmer temperatures did not help. He said most fires took place early in the morning when there was no-one around to extinguish them quickly.