x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cotton dust ignition blamed in Jebel Ali factory fire

A fire at a Jebel Ali factory that makes bed linens caused a massive amount of damage, but none of the 190 employees was harmed.

The blaze was still smouldering today at what was left of the factory.
The blaze was still smouldering today at what was left of the factory.

DUBAI // Cotton dust igniting in the air is believed to have started the fire that destroyed a textile factory in Jebel Ali.

None of the 190 employees was injured in the blaze on Wednesday at Wonu International, which manufactured blankets, bed sheets and household linen.

The fire, which was still smouldering yesterday, caused hundreds of millions of dirhams’ worth of damage, a factory administrator said.

The cause has not been officially determined but a fire safety officer said: “Something ignited the cotton dust that was in the air.

“Everyone did the best they could to put out the fire but it got out of control quickly and spread to the entire facility.”

The factory’s owner, Hamad Al Kaltham, a Saudi national, said:  “The police and civil defence have not released the property to us, so we haven’t been able to assess the cause or access the property.

“This is a tragic situation for us all and is still under investigation.”

Dozens of industrial garment manufacturing machines and several lorries were destroyed.

A Dubai Police forensics officer was at the site yesterday interviewing the factory’s management and owner.

Choon Park, the general manager of Wonu International, said the factory was insured.

More than 20 emergency vehicles, including an incident command unit, battled the blaze until the evening.

Black smoke was still rising from the factory yesterday and two fire engines doused fires that had reignited.

Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), the regulatory arm of Trakhees Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, enforces safety regulations on all structures in the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

Regulations include submitting a fire protection design analysis, which details information on the required fire-rated walls and doors, smoke control methods, location of fire hydrants, fire alarm and detection systems, fire extinguishers and fire department access.

New structures must be built using non-combustible or flame-resistant materials, and construction barriers must be in place to block the spread of fire.

EHS and the municipal health and safety department could not be reached for comment.

Speaking in July, Sultan Essa Al Suwaidi, head of the safety section at the Public Health and Safety Department, said all companies in the emirate would be expected to submit an emergency response plan by the end of 2011. “If the company fully understands and evaluates each risk … correct preventive measures including safety systems, equipment and gear will be in place,” he said.

ealghalib@thenational.ae

melshoush@thenational.ae