UAE | General

Jumeirah Lakes Towers fire victims seek answers

Residents express fear over future arrangements as provision for their hotel accommodation is only for two nights

  • By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 09:06 November 20, 2012

Evacuated residents of the Tamweel Tower
  • Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News
  • Evacuated residents of the Tamweel Tower in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers wait outside the building after a fire broke out in the high-rise on Sunday.
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Dubai: Residents of the Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) that was ravaged by fire at 2am on Sunday are looking for answers as to what will happen next — if and when they could go back to their homes.

Residents of the 34-storey tower woke up to fire alarms and smoke early on Sunday morning.

Strong winds reportedly fanned the inferno, making it spread to other floors and burning almost half the tower. Cladding materials used in the building likewise seemed to have fuelled the fire. However, no casualties were reported in the fire.

In a statement sent to media on Monday, Tamweel and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) said they have arranged transportation and accommodation to the displaced residents.

But some residents have expressed fears over what would happen next as they said they had been told that the provision for their hotel accommodation was only for two nights. Despite repeated request for comment, no one from Tamweel or DMCC could officially confirm this information.

“Where do we live? We’ve already paid a year’s rent upfront. We don’t have money to pay rent somewhere else,” J.B., a British expatriate, said.

“No one has contacted us yet. We’re temporarily housed in a hotel here for two nights, outside of that, we don’t know,” he added.

S.Vasu, a resident of the 20th floor, said: “We have not received information as to what will happen next. We cannot move without hearing anything from them.”

Officials said they would allow residents to go up all the floors and gather some belongings as soon as they receive clearance on the safety. But as of 1pm, some residents said they were only allowed to go up until 13th floor, which was untouched by the fire.

Meanwhile, the spirit of giving came alive on Monday in JLT as volunteers from the community came forward to offer food, supplies and refreshments to the families displaced by the fire.

In the lobby of Armada 2, where over 50 affected families are being housed, lay slippers, items of clothing, toys, diapers and other essential goods donated by concerned residents from JLT, Meadows and Al Quoz, among others.

Gratitude

Shaema Shariq, 25, who is nine months pregnant with her first baby, expressed her gratitude to the people who have come to help.

“Armada gave us proper dinner and everybody else has been trying to help in any which way they can which is nice and very heartwarming,” Shariq, who came down the staircase from the 10th floor during the fire, told Gulf News from her room in Armada.

“You’ll never think you’ll be in this situation so it’s a bit difficult to take. It was the longest [night of my life] and it took me forever to go down. But we will pick up the pieces and move on,” she added.

Nita, a resident from UK, who lived on the 8th floor, said: “It’s the first time we’ve experienced something like this. And people have been very generous. Strangers come up to you to ask if you need anything.”

Over at Al Seef 3, a group of ladies from nearby towers at Al Seef 2 and 3 have voluntarily put up a table to serve refreshments to residents. They, themselves, were evacuated the night before during the fire.

“We can feel their pain. It could have been us in their place right now,” Tuhina Bhattacharya, a resident of Al Seef 2, said.

Bhattacharya said she now fears for her family’s safety as well as for other residents living in high-rise buildings in Dubai. “There was no strategy, no disaster management plan. No one could go up there, firefighters had to go to break into four flats in our tower just to spray water onto Tamweel.”

“These are all freehold properties and so much investment lost. In such a kind of disaster like this, some help should be done,” she added.

Gulf News spotted 800 thali, a newly opened restaurant, delivering 60 packs of complete meals also at Armada. Also ready to lend a hand was Chubby Cheeks Nursery in JLT.

Comments (6)

  1. Added 16:22 November 20, 2012

    I am very pleased that somehow no one has been hurt or worse as a cause of this disaster! However, I think serious questions need to be raised as to why the fire hoses on each floor were not working! This should be part of a safety check which is carried out by the Fire Dept on a regular basis. Please Dubai Civil Defence take immediate action to ensure that these checks are carried out in all buildings regularly in order to aviod unnecessary deaths!

    AJG, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:47 November 20, 2012

    This is really too much! I have been witnessing and seeing fires almost one a month and the miseries of people are forgotten within days! It is well known that Metal Panels with oil based core will burn and spread fire and it is also well known that many towers in UAE have the same risk.

    John Bodner, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 10:41 November 20, 2012

    The dangers of such combustible cladding have been known for a long time in engineering circles. The significant number of recent fires in regional high-rise buildings have clearly demonstrated the risk posed by such dangerous materials. Here the dangerous materials even extended to the roof where decorative fixtures were installed near to technical installations which can pose their own hazards, even without nearby combustibles. It will be interesting to see who will step forward and reimburse residents for their financial loss. Video reports of this fire seem to have gone viral around the world and many will be interested is the outcome of the case. Let us hope action is taken swiftly with just decisions to help those affected families, many who perhaps have lost their life savings by buying property in this building.

    Louie Tedesco, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 10:31 November 20, 2012

    I would like to salute to the people of Armada Tower 2, and the near by community! Their response on quick notice, yes it’s difficult to arrange food and shelter for displaced people, but together we can conquer this thing. I am especially worried about children who don't know what happened. I will try my best and encourage my family and friends to arrange some basic items for them.

    EHTESHAM, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 09:34 November 20, 2012

    my appeal to authorities to support them as they do usually with everyone who need their help! Also some major decisions have to be taken for the safety and precautions for high rise buildings with fancy front made of glasses and fibre.

    AA, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 09:28 November 20, 2012

    so good to see how the community is coming together to help the residents of Tamweel building. I will surely visit and lend a helping hand.

    faa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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