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6 buildings in Jeddah's old town go up in flames

Historic buildings in Jeddah's city centre hit; 3 collapsed completely

  • A combo image of the fire in Jeddah late on Tuesday nightImage Credit: Twitter
  • Map of Jeddah's Al Balad DistrictImage Credit: Google maps

Manama: Six buildings in Al Balad, Jeddah's old town went up in flames on Tuesday night, according to Saudi media.

Three of the six buildings collapsed completely, officials reported, adding that there were no casualties.

Authorities reported six people — including five firefighters and a Saudi man — were injured and given medical treatment.

Arab News, a Jeddah daily, and Twitter users shared videos of flames ravaging buildings in the city's historic Red Sea-side town.

Though the buildings were old, they were all inhabited, online news site Sabq reported. It added that the fire broke out in a four-storey building and spread out to the other buildings.

As the fire raged, firefighters combed the affected buildings — including those which had collapsed — to ensure no one was left inside. At least  60 people were evacuated. 

Due to the tight space between the buildings in the old part of town, firefighters' movements were hampered, and witnesses said the response was delayed due to lack of road access for the firetrucks. 

Engr Sami Nawar, the city mayor, was quoted as saying that the fire hit Al Qumsani, Al Ashmawi and Abdel-Aal buildings.

Al Ekhbariyta TV shows the inferno raging in at least two neighbouring buildings as well as the narrow road between them.

The name of the other buildings were not immediately known.

By 10pm, Civil Defense firefighters had put out 80 per cent of the fire, said Nawar, but warned the fire-hit buildings could collapse.

The fire is now extinguished. One of the buildings that collapsed was the Al-Qumsani.

Arab News reported that the Saudi Red Crescent Authority established a medical screening area close to the site. 

Firefighters from Jeddah's Civil Defense Directorate helped battle the blaze while emergency teams were on site to help victims.

Col. Saeed Sarhan, Civil Defense spokesperson, said rescue teams evacuated the area to ensure residents' safety.

Al-Balad, known for its old structures, is listed on UNESCO's World Heritage site. It forms the core of Jeddah, a trading centre and the gateway for Muslim pilgrims to Makkah. It's where old souqs and the "Bab Makkah" (Arabic for "Gate to Makkah") are located. 

Here's a video of Jeddah's Al Balad district uploaded by a YouTube user.

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