x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dozens of families flee as Sharjah fire guts 20-storey tower

It took fire fighters from Sharjah, Dubai and Ajman about two hours to completely control the blaze.

Fire broke out at about 2pm at Al Hafeet Tower 2 in the Al Taawun neighbourhood in Sharjah on 22 April 2013. Faime Puebla / The National
Fire broke out at about 2pm at Al Hafeet Tower 2 in the Al Taawun neighbourhood in Sharjah on 22 April 2013. Faime Puebla / The National

SHARJAH // More than 80 families were evacuated after a fire broke out in a 20-storey building in the Al Taawun neighbourhood.

Mohammed Al Shamal, an officer with Sharjah Police rescue team, said: “We have treated five cases of smoke inhalation, most of them simple and moderate. All those, including a four-year-old boy, were treated on the scene. One more serious case – a 55-year-old woman – was taken to Kuwait hospital.”

The blaze started at about 2pm at Al Hafeet Tower 2. It took fire fighters from Sharjah, Dubai and Ajman about two hours to completely control the blaze, said Brigadier Abdullah Saeed Al Suwaidi, the director general of Sharjah Civil Defence.

“The response was quick on our side,” he said. “We were on the scene in less than five minutes and this helped to minimise the spread of the fire.”

Ten floors at the rear of the building were gutted by the fire. Apartments on the front were untouched but residents were evacuated as a precaution.

Civil Defence officials are yet to determine the cause of the blaze and where it started, Brig Al Suwaidi said. Initial investigations pointed to either the second or seventh floors.

Khalid Obaid Al Shamsi, a senior Civil Defence official, praised the work of the police and rescue teams in evacuating residents as well as removing vehicles from the car park to prevent them from being damaged by falling debris.

Aisha, an Indian mother of two, said she led her children down the building’s stairs as soon as the fire alarm started.

“Police were speaking in a mix of Arabic and Urdu asking us to go through the stairs not the lifts. There were many families coming down with us,” she said.

Al Hafeet Tower 2 is only a few blocks away from Al Bakar tower 4, which was destroyed by fire last year leaving more than 100 families homeless. Also last year, more than 400 families were displaced after a fire at Al Tayer tower.

Authorities said the Al Bakar and Al Tayer fires were both caused by discarded cigarettes.

ykakande@thenational.ae