x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Firefighters battle for hours to contain Sharjah blaze

Two motor-spares operations and a furniture warehouse were razed by the inferno which was finally brought under control by firefighters after a four-hour battle.

Civilians and workers from the different car shops helped civil defense to fight the blaze in Sharjah. (Antonie Robertson / The National
Civilians and workers from the different car shops helped civil defense to fight the blaze in Sharjah. (Antonie Robertson / The National

SHARJAH // Firefighters battled for more than four hours yesterday to contain a blaze that destroyed three warehouses and a furniture store.

The fire in the Sharjah industrial area started at two warehouses belonging to Al Zaeem Al Sham second-hand cars and spare parts before spreading to the Bab Al Hara spare-parts warehouse and the furniture store near by.

"The blaze started at about 10am and firefighters were still fighting the blaze after 2pm," said Col Rashid Al Marri of Sharjah Civil ?Defence. "The presence of cars with oil as well as the burning of tyres escalated the blaze and facilitated it quickly spreading to neighbouring warehouses."

Thick black smoke could be seen for miles around with traffic in the industrial area diverted to allow fire crews easy access to the scene.

The incident also attracted dozens of workers from nearby businesses who gathered in large crowds to watch. Police were called to move the men out of harm's way.

Baseel Ali, who works in Al Zaeem warehouse, said staff noticed a burning smell coming from the warehouse next door when they arrived for work in the morning. They saw flames soon after and quickly evacuated the building.

"We called all our colleagues to run out of the premises and then we called the Civil Defence," he said. "It is the first time I have seen such a big fire and I am surprised it happened at my workplace."

Firefighters from Dubai, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain joined crews from Sharjah Civil Defence to tackle the fire.

After bringing the blaze under control, firefighters remained at the scene for the rest of the day to cool the premises before handing the investigation over to CID officers.

No injuries or deaths were reported and the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Fires are a common occurrence in Sharjah industrial areas, especially during the summer. In June, six people were killed in a fire in Al Sajja industrial area. The blaze started in a warehouse used to store pesticide before spreading to a furniture warehouse.

Initially four workers were reported to have died in the fire, but two more bodies were discovered after the area had been cooled. Eight people were injured.

In March, two large blazes destroyed two warehouses filled with aluminium and furniture in industrial area 3. The fires started within an hour of each other and took almost two hours to bring under control.

Four people died and 46 sustained injuries in fires around Sharjah last year. Seven people also died in other rescue-related operations and 61 were injured.

There were 760 fires reported in the emirate in 2012. Vehicle and house fires were most common, with 153 and 152 cases respectively. There were 61 factory fires, but only two school fires, both of which were minor.