Sharjah: An Indian couple recalled how they raced down hundreds of dark stairs, jumping two steps at a time to escape their fire-ravaged building on Tuesday.
Hiral and Harsha were in their 32nd floor studio apartment when a blaze ripped through the 190-metre Abbco Tower, turning it into a towering inferno in a matter of minutes.
“It all happened in a blur. One moment we were relaxing at home, the next, scrambling for our lives,” recalled Harsha, a school teacher at New Delhi Private School, Sharjah.
Hiral said she had just finished her chores and was preparing to enjoy a cup of tea with her husband when the fire alarm rang. “We ignored it thinking it was just another false alarm. But when it rang a second time and then a third, we got intrigued and looked out of the window. The sight that greeted us looked straight out of a disaster movie. Huge flames licked one side of our building as thick plumes of black smoke billowed the darkening sky. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My mind was numb with shock and disbelief,” Hiral recalled.
Harsh, 32, said they quickly gathered themselves and dashed out. “I rang the doorbell of every apartment on our floor as we scurried down the corridor towards the stairs. It was dark so we used our cellphone flashlights as we descended the stairway, pausing only to catch our breath,” he said.
“Along the way, we met a Indian woman who was cradling a little baby,” said Hiral. “She looked quite faint and exhausted so I took the child from her hand while my husband helped her climb down the remaining stairs.”
Harsh said when they had reached one of the lower floors and opened the door that led to the building parking they saw several cars engulfed in flames. “It was a horrifying spectacle. Large chunks of metal and glass shards were falling from the building,” said Harsh who is now living with his brother in a nearby building.
Harsh said he’s lucky they have survived the fire but wondered if their apartment was also unscathed.
“We have so many wonderful memories there. I don’t know when we could go back and if our belongings are safe,” he said.