x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

170 families left without power for six days after fire

Electricity, water and gas supplies to 14-storey tower have been cut after fire in electrical room at the weekend.

A staff member at the Corniche Al Madina grocery in Al Nahda, Sharjah, clears the shelves of perishable goods as the building in which it operates has been without electricity for six days.
A staff member at the Corniche Al Madina grocery in Al Nahda, Sharjah, clears the shelves of perishable goods as the building in which it operates has been without electricity for six days.

SHARJAH // More than 150 families have been left without electricity or water for six days after a fire at their apartment building.

Tenants in the 14-storey Building 262 tower in Al Nahda say they have been living in darkness and with no escape from the summer heat after the power was turned off at the weekend.

The fire started in an electrical room on Friday and was quickly put out by firefighters before it could spread to the rest of the tower.

The electricity supply to the building, known locally as Corniche Al Madina after the large supermarket on the ground floor, was disconnected as a safety precaution while crews tackled the blaze.

But it was not switched back on, and water and other basic utilities such as gas have also been disconnected.

The families who live in the tower's 170 flats fear the building may have been damaged in the fire, but have not been able to contact the owner.

Some have been staying with friends and family during the day, returning to their homes in the evening when temperatures drop.

"Even sleeping in the flat without electricity or water is a big inconvenience in the high temperatures now, but we have no choice," said Rauf, an Indian father of two who was sitting outside the building with his family.

"You cannot take all your family to someone's home and the hotels are so expensive."

The lack of running water has meant families have had to carry buckets filled in buildings nearby back to their homes to wash and clean.

A spokesman for Sharjah Civil Defence said: "We did our work that day and now reconnection of power or any other services is the work of another department and the owner."

Businesses in the tower, which is managed by Al Sawa Real Estate, have also been affected.

A ladies' beauty salon and a cafeteria have closed, while staff at the supermarket only sell non-perishable goods such as canned food because the freezers are not working.

The supermarket's owner said he was concerned about the damage the heat was doing to his stock.

"We have made a total loss of about Dh30,000 from when the power went off," said Nourshad.

"I have tried to contact the real estate company and the building's owner, but no solution has been given. Now the owner's phone is switched off and he cannot be contacted."

Nourshad said attempts to buy and install a temporary generator to run the fridges and freezers until the power was turned back on were blocked the process of gaining permission from the Sharjah Municipality.

"They promise to help but the application process needs time, it is not happening in two or three days," he said.

A spokesman for Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) said it was not aware of any problems with the building's power connections and the problem was probably caused by a fault in the building.

Blackouts during summer are nothing new to residents of Sharjah, but the Sewa spokesman said there had been no power cuts so far this summer, and the authority had fixed the problems that caused them in the past.

The building's owner was not responding to calls.

ykakande@thenational.ae