Dubai: The smell of burnt materials was still in the air on Friday morning, a day after a portion of the 195-metre high Duja Tower along Sheikh Zayed Road caught fire but residents of the 53-floor residential tower told Gulf News they were satisfied with the way building management worked round-the-clock to ensure their safety.
They also appreciated the kindness of nearby hotels that provided them with “luxurious refuge” overnight. Hotels converted conference rooms and halls into dormitories and provided the affected residents with food, coffee, toiletries and warm cozy beds.
“It was really a nice gesture from our neighbouring Sheraton Grand Hotel,” British couple Michael Malas, 57, and Diana Dikram, 54, told Gulf News.
“We were out on the street watching a portion of our building ablazed when a woman who turned out to be the director of hotel rooms operations approached us and asked if we are residents of Duja Tower. We said ‘yes’ and she (Olesia Ostapenko-Majid) told us to follow her to the hotel,” Dikram said.
“We were ushered to the second floor, where two rooms were filled with rows of beds and a few baby cots. The staff made us feel comfortable and they prepared food, drinks and a place where we can freshen up as one by one we saw our neighbours coming in,” added Malas, who lives with his wife on the sixth floor of Duja Tower.
He continued: “The smile and warm welcome by the hotel staff comforted us. We thanked them and they replied – ‘No worries. You would do the same to us if we were in your situation.”
Antoher Duja Tower resident, Nada Badran, a Palestinian expat, immediately took to her social media account to thank the hotel. “Grateful to the @sheratondubai for setting this up for Duja Tower’s residents post fire. Feels like I’m back in dorms,” she tweeted.
The residents were also satisfied with the quick response by the Dubai Civil Defence.
Badran said the regular fire drills conducted by the building management helped them not to panic during the actual emergency situation. “The tower security knocked on every door to ensure that everyone was out and safe,” she said.
“The evacuation was quick and organised and the authorities were able to evacuate the residents within 20 minutes after the fire broke at around 8.20pm,” Malas shared.
“No injuries were reported as the fire brigade arrived within five minutes. The only problem was the heavy traffic in the area (along World Trade Centre) and the initial crowd of people who gathered under the building to take photos and videos,” he added.
Indian couple Sankalp and Shikhi Sharma said the building management were also responsive to their needs. They said: We were given accommodation at nearby hotels and those who paid from their own pockets were promised to be reimbursed.”
Meanwhile a statement from Duja Tower Management read: “Together with Dubai Civil Defence, engineering and security services teams, we are working round-the-clock to return Duja Tower to safety for residents to return.”
“Access to the building is still restricted pending the authorities investigation to ensure it is safe for residents to return. They have however allowed families needing to collect medication, pets or passports, to retrieve this only under escort of the Police and building security services,” it added.
“The owners and management wish to assure you, that your safety as well as that of your family will always take priority. Once the Dubai authorities have certified it safe for your return, we will advise you accordingly,” Duja Tower management told the residents.
Dubai Police and Civil Defence are investigating what caused the blaze.