A Dubai Civil Defence firefighter douses a burnt-out cargo boat on the Dubai Creek on Sunday, hours after it caught fire. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News

Dubai: At least two cargo dhows (boats) were gutted in a major fire on the Dubai Creek late on Saturday , Police and Civil Defence confirmed.

According to eyewitnesses, five to seven boats loaded with cargo were gutted, though Civil Defence authorities did not confirm it.

Passenger cruise boats were moved to a safe distance. At least three to four explosions were reportedly heard as gas cylinders aboard the dhows were believed to have exploded. The Police did not confirm any casualties. There was a confirmed report from hospital sources that at least one person had been admitted to Rashid Hospital with burns.

Strong winds

Only one sailor sustained a minor injury and was taken to hospital, according to Brigadier Ahmad Obaid Al Sayegh, Assistant Director General for Fire and Rescue at Dubai Civil Defence.

Brig Al Sayegh said the first report about the fire was received at 7:45pm. The dhows were loaded with cars, foodstuffs and other commodities. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

According to a Dubai Police official on the scene, an explosion in one of the dhows sparked the massive fire, which took more than three hours to bring under control.
Dozens of firefighters and a number of fire engines, including firefighting boats and helicopters, battled to douse the flames, as strong winds made the job difficult.

Hundreds of people gathered on both sides of the Creek to watch the incident, and Police blocked access to Al Seef Street as a precautionary measure.

All boats that caught fire had cars as their cargo and repeated explosions left the boats and their contents completely gutted, an official at Dubai Civil Defence told Gulf News at the scene.

The ‘strategy’

He said the boats caught fire on the Deira side of the Creek, but were deliberately moved to the other side (towards the Al Seef Street side of Bur Dubai) to prevent the fire from spreading to dozens of other boats nearby.

“It was part of the strategy to contain the fire and it really helped,” the official explained.
Eyewitnesses told Gulf News that the fire started around 7:40pm with a huge explosion and it quickly spread to the boats berthed nearby.

As multiple explosions rocked the boats, huge flames billowed several metres high into the night sky.

— With additional inputs from Janice Ponce de LeonStaff Reporter