x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Diesel inferno is biggest industrial fire in Sharjah this year

Firefighting crews were tested to their limits by two fires which destroyed lorries and warehouses. The diesel fire started at around 2pm and took 10 hours to bring under control.

One of the four warehouses owned by furniture and clothing firms that were gutted by the second blaze in Sharjah on Saturday afternoon. It erupted about an hour after the first fire.
One of the four warehouses owned by furniture and clothing firms that were gutted by the second blaze in Sharjah on Saturday afternoon. It erupted about an hour after the first fire.

SHARJAH // Firefighters in the emirate were tested to their limits by two fires that destroyed nine warehouses and five lorries on Saturday, Civil Defence officials say.

In what is being described as the biggest industrial fire in the emirate so far this year, a diesel refilling station in Sharjah Industrial Area 18 was destroyed, with five petrochemical factories, five lorries in a neighbouring workshop and the on-site workers' accommodation.

The fire started at around 2pm and firefighters needed 10 hours to bring it under control.

"This is the biggest industrial fire so far this year in Sharjah," said Col Mohammed Hassan Bu Taweel, the acting director general of Sharjah Civil Defence. "The thick smoke that billowed in the skies was a result of the petrochemical materials that were being gutted in the fire."

The second fire began in Sharjah Industrial Area 17 about 3pm and destroyed four warehouses belonging to furniture and clothing firms, said Col Bu Taweel.

Mohammed Rafique, the owner of a neighbouring warehouse, praised the firefighters for bringing the fire under control. "We have been good neighbours with the gutted company and I feel very sorry about what has happened to them."

Firefighters completed the cooling process at the Area 17 fire on Sunday evening and handed the site over to CID and fire experts to establish the cause.

Cooling at the Area 18 fire will continue for two days.

Col Rashid Al Marri, the director of operations at Sharjah Civil Defence, said both scenes had been carefully combed for victims and he confirmed there had been no fatalities or injuries at either site.

He described the Area 18 blaze as the biggest industrial fire in the emirate.

First Lieutenant Obaid bin Suwaif, who was among the firefighters who responded to the Area 18 fire, said the Ministry of Interior was working to devise stricter safety laws regarding the storage of chemicals in warehouses.

"We are still not certain about the real cause of this fire but similar previous fires have been caused by poor storage of highly flammable chemical materials," he said.

The emirate has been the site of several warehouse fire in the past, including the 2010 fire at the National Paints factory that killed one worker.

ykakande@thenational.ae