Sharjah: Eighteen families at the Al Majaz Tower in Sharjah, where a fire broke out on Tuesday night, have been provided with alternative accommodation, officials said on Wednesday.
Around 260 families were evacuated from the 43-storey building which has eight levels of parking on Al Majaz 2 Road. Of them, 18 families needed alternative accommodation until their apartments could be declared fit to stay. A total of 26 apartments were found to be affected by the fire.
A spokesperson of the building’s management said, “It is our responsibility to provide alternative accommodation to the residents. The affected families will stay in furnished apartments till maintenance work is completed in the building and utility services (power and gas lines) are restored to the apartments.”
Two dogs were also rescued from a burning apartment.
Sharjah Civil Defence, who received the first alert at 9.41pm, brought the fire under control within one hour. The rescue team reached the site within three minutes, their quick response averting a major disaster.
Civil Defence officials said the fire started in the building’s cladding and spread from the fifth to the tenth floor, damaging the right side. While the aluminium cladding surrounding the building was gutted, 26 apartments on the lower floors were affected.
Residents said they just left their belongings behind and scrambled for safety.
Mohammad Yasir , who lives on the 20th floor, said, “My family was sleeping when I heard the fire alarm. I went to the balcony and saw smoke. I took my family, including two children aged three and four, and rushed out of the flat. We left everything.”
Another resident Hala, however, said she was able to bring along a few things because she maintained a “bag for emergencies”.
Authorities had to close the road for motorists’ safety as burning debris could be seen falling from the building. The road was partially opened for traffic around 4am and rendered fully functional later in the morning.
By 4.30 am, residents of unaffected apartments were allowed to enter the building with priority being given to the elderly, children and women to use the lift.
The cause of the fire is yet to be established.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hani Rashid Al Dahmani, director of media and public relations department at Sharjah Civil Defence, told Gulf News that the cooling operations were underway on Wednesday morning .
“A full investigation has been launched. At 6.10 am, the building site was handed over to forensic experts of Sharjah Police to determine the cause of the fire,” he said. With 100 surveillance cameras installed in the building, it is hoped that they will help pinpoint the exact cause of the fire.
Lieutenant-Colonel Al Dahmani urged residents to take all precautions and follow the Civil Defence’s safety instructions to avoid such incidents.
Brigadier General Dr Ahmad Saeed Al Naour, director general of central operations, Brigadier General Mohammad Abdullah Al Obed, deputy director general of police operations, in addition to a number of senior police officials were onsite and closely monitored the rescue operations.