Dubai: Victims of the 13-storey apartment blaze that tore through a building in Tecom on Saturday have told how they “have lost everything.”
Without insurance to fall back on, some report losses of around Dh25,000.
On Sunday the clean-up operation continued as residents started to pick through the charred furniture strewn around the building.
Repair work will begin when the building management get the green light from Dubai Civil Defence.
The seven families displaced from the Saif Belhasa Building have been given free hotel accommodation by the building management until repairs are completed.
“We have provided hotel accommodation for the families affected and will extend it until the repair work is over. We have called in people to do repair work for the building but we’re still waiting for the civil defence to finish their investigation. We will start work as soon as we get approval from the civil defence,” Gayatri Menon, real estate manager, told Gulf News.
The fire reportedly started on the fourth floor and damaged at least nine floors, particularly the 07-series flats.
Two people sustained minor injuries and two infants were treated for smoke inhalation according to the medics on site.
Of the 300 residents evacuated on Saturday, most went back to their homes that evening when power and other utilities were restored.
On Sunday building management and representatives from their insurance company inspected affected flats to assess the damage.
Inside Mohammad Ameen Khan’s flat on the eighth floor, charred furniture lies on the floor.
The walls are blackened by soot and glass balcony doors and windows have been shattered while metal railings melted in the blaze.
Khan told Gulf News everything he has worked for during his seven years in the UAE is gone.
He said around Dh25,000 worth of furniture and personal effects were ravaged by the fire.
“Everything is gone right now. It’s a big loss for me. In this country if you’re an expat, it takes time to collect things and to put them in one place,” Khan, who was sleeping in his flat when the fire broke out, said.
“But I’m so happy that my family wasn’t here when the fire happened,” he added.
Flat 907, was a similar scene.
Shady Dandan, a Syrian said that at around 9.20am he could smell smoke.
“We had the curtains closed and could not see outside, we then saw some smoke coming in, when we opened the curtains, we could see thick smoke and flames on the balcony.”
Dandan and his friend then heard a very loud blast. “I was shaking with fear, we ran down the stairs.
“Some people were crying and some were vomiting. One man was in a towel and running with his child. It was terrible.” he added.
He claimed the sprinklers in his apartment did not go off, until he was already in the street.
“I have been coughing very hard and I have vomited three times from all the smoke I have inhaled,” he said
Dandan also confirmed the building’s management has provided them with accommodation.
Dubai Civil Defence say they have no new information about the cause of the fire — the case has been transferred to the forensics department at Dubai Police.
The fire reportedly started at 407, but the resident who refused to be named, said she was not in her apartment when the fire broke out.
She said when she woke up at around 6am that day, she could smell burning and could see white fog.
“I just want things to get fixed as soon as possible so I can go on with my life,” she said,
The burn marks on the building façade suggest that the fire might have spread through the cladding walls.
When asked by Gulf News about the cladding materials used, a representative from the building management said: “We only used materials as per Dubai Municipality specifications, and the same materials as the others are using.”
In May, Gulf News reported the lack of a unified rules in terms of using fire-rated construction materials. A new national fire safety code is set to become law by the year-end.
With it the existing provisions of the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code introduced in July 2011 will be amended and all non-fire rated cladding panels on skyscrapers will be prohibited.