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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 December 2018

Al Reef complex fire destroys homes of 200 labourers

Workers lost their belongings in the blaze at the compound managed by Dhabi Contracting company

The labour accommodation near Al Reef Villas that was destroyed by a fire on Saturday. Pawan Singh / The National
The labour accommodation near Al Reef Villas that was destroyed by a fire on Saturday. Pawan Singh / The National

About 200 labourers have lost their homes and belongings after a fire ripped through their accommodation block at Al Reef on Saturday.

A witness said no alarm rang after the fire broke out at the worker’s camp.

“By the time we detected the smoke, some people were in their rooms, but we tried our best to alert them to move out,” according to a witness who asked not to be identified. “I am sure they all moved out because even when the fire brigade calmed down the situation they did not find any casualties inside.”

Witnesses told The National they first saw smoke billowing from a room in the upper level. They said the fire started just after 4pm on the first floor of a residential complex that was home to labourers employed by the Dhabi Contracting company. The construction company houses about 1,000 Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers in the compound. The affected complex was a building comprising 32 rooms - 16 on the ground level and 16 above. Each room housed between eight to 10 workers.

“The whole of the first floor, all of the materials were destroyed,” according to a witness.

The ground floor sustained mainly smoke and water damage, he said.

An official with the Dhabi Contracting company said the affected workers have been moved to another nearby residence block.

“We arranged another accommodation for them and we do whatever is needful to make them safe and comfortable,” said the administrator, who asked to stay anonymous. “Everything is under control now."

The camp, which is about 45 kilometres from Abu Dhabi, is a complex of pre-fabricated buildings.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the company official.

As news of the blaze spread on social media, members of online communities quickly responded by offering to donate essential items to the affected workers. In the 45,000-member FreeCycle Abu Dhabi - a Facebook group where people advertise free items to be given away - many posts offered to give the men clothing, bedding and other necessities. The page’s administrator, Gina Dillon, was organising the logistics.

“FreeCycle is spearheading donations organised by community members,” said Ms Dillon. “We hope to bring neighbours together to collect and drop off to the men of the labour camp. Such a sad thing to happen for those who have close to nothing to lose everything.

“I’m on standby until I learn more from the management on how the community can lend a hand.”

Last year, the camp was the site of another major fire that forced 160 workers to lose their home and possessions. That fire was due to an electrical short circuit.

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Read more:

Abu Dhabi labourers who lost everything in a camp fire being supported by other workers