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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Sharjah fire survivor tells of fleeing burning home as flames spread from AC unit

Emirati mother said blaze started in her air conditioning unit and that she banged on neighbours' doors to wake them

The fire tore through at least two apartments, including this one, killing five people in total. A further six residents and ten emergency service personnel were taken to hospital. Courtesy Sharjah Civil Defence
The fire tore through at least two apartments, including this one, killing five people in total. A further six residents and ten emergency service personnel were taken to hospital. Courtesy Sharjah Civil Defence

A mother who survived a blaze that killed five people and left 16 others in hospital has described fleeing her apartment after discovering a fire in her bedroom.

The Emirati said the fire started in an air conditioning unit in her apartment in the early hours of Monday morning.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she and her maid took her three children and ran outside.

“I rushed to the bedroom where the AC was and saw that the fire had spread to the rest of the room, so I called police, took my maid and my three children and ran outside,” she told The National.

Once they were safe she went back into the building, returned to the first floor and started knocking on apartments doors to wake tenants up.

“When I tried to reach the second floor, the heavy smoke prevented me going any further,” she said.

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Ahmad Babakir, 48, an electricity authority worker from Sudan, lives on the third floor and woke to screams from outside.

“I thought it was a fight. I turned the lights on to check what was happening and noticed it was 3am exactly. I smelled fire but hadn't seen anything yet,” he said.

He said he opened the bedroom door to be met by heavy smoke.

“I rushed to my sleeping wife, she is asthmatic, and I found that she was almost unconscious. I soaked a piece of cloth in water and covered her face,” he said.

He said he tried to escape down the stairs but there were no lights and the heat forced him back.

“We couldn't even make it back to our flat. I heard the screams of an Arab woman and lost consciousness after that,” he said.

Mr Babakir, who works for the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, woke up in hospital and was told that his wife is in intensive care.

“She is still there, I'm told she is in a critical condition. She inhaled a lot of smoke," he said.

Major General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, chief of Sharjah Police, confirmed the fire was caused by a malfunction in the air conditioning unit.

Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, has ordered that fire alarms be installed in all of the emirate’s buildings.

Six residents, nine police officers and a firefighter were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

The officers were all released on Monday but its not clear how many of the residents had been discharged as of Monday evening.