x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Fire guts shops and warehouses

Shops and electronics warehouses in an industrial area in Sharjah were gutted by flames, destroying merchandise worth millions.

Fire destroyed shops and warehouses in Sharjah's Industrial Area 3 yesterday.
Fire destroyed shops and warehouses in Sharjah's Industrial Area 3 yesterday.

SHARJAH // Fire gutted five shops and three electronics warehouses in an industrial area yesterday morning, destroying merchandise worth millions of dirhams. No injuries were reported in the incident. The fire, which began at about 7.30am, may have been sparked by an electrical short circuit in an electronics shop, according to Col Rashid Marwan Buafra, the Sharjah Civil Defence official supervising the fire-fighting.

He cautioned, however, that investigators needed to complete their work before the cause could be known with certainty. Most of the gutted shops sold home appliances and consumer electronics. One shop housed a printing press. Col Buafra, who said firemen arrived in less than five minutes, attributed the significant losses in the four-hour blaze to the high density of storage within a small area. Asad al Ikhtiyal estimated that he lost goods worth Dh10 million (US$2.7m) in his home appliance shop, Electroline.

Mr al Ikhtiyal, 50, from Lebanon, said he had operated the shop for two decades. He declined to say whether the business was insured. "I lost everything, that's all; [I] am a poor man like any other," he said. Police cordoned off the area around the fire and closed several roads, slowing traffic in the area to a snail's pace. Abdul Saleem Antuire, 40, an Indian who works as a watchman at the store Best Buys, said he woke up to the sound of explosions - possibly detonating gas cylinders - in a nearby shop and ran from his quarters. The fire swept through the building where he had been sleeping.

"I did not think of carrying anything from my room," Mr Antuire said. "All I wanted was my life. I feel relieved that I managed to survive." Abdul Aziz Mohammed, the owner of Best Buys, said two of his warehouses were gutted but that firemen saved the shop he has operated for 25 years. "I have lost about Dh2 million," he said.

ykakande@thenational.ae