Anupam Lunavat, resident of fire-hit Zen Tower in Dubai, collects some belongings on Tuesday PHOTO Faisal Masudi Image Credit:

Dubai: Some residents of the fire-hit Zen Tower in Dubai Marina returned to their apartments with the help of police to assess the damage and pick up their belongings on Tuesday.

On Sunday, a huge blaze had engulfed the 15-storey residential tower, leaving one man with a minor injury and trapping five people and some pets, who were all rescued in the incident, officials said.

The inferno badly damaged some parts of the building, which houses 74 apartments. Dubai Police is investigating the cause of the blaze.

On Sunday, many residents were lodged in a couple of hotels and provided meals, all free of charge. Some are staying with family or friends until they are given permission to return, while a few are planning to rent other apartments elsewhere.

Police are guarding and controlling access to the tower, with some residents on Tuesday given permission to collect a few belongings, such as medicine, cash and passports.

A nearby hotel, Wyndham Dubai Marina, swung into action to assist the affected families. Hotel manager Agusti Curto said eight Zen Tower families have been staying at Wyndham on a complimentary basis, meals included, since the fire.

Also, he added, the hotel made available its premises for residents to drop off donations such as clothes, bed linens, non-perishable foodstuff and toys, for the affected families. So far, around 150 people have stepped forward with donations.

Furthermore, the hotel will be offering a “very, very competitive rate” exclusively for affected Zen Tower residents during Ramdan, so that “they are not let down during this difficult time”, Curto said. The families will be able to access a direct reservation system.

Meanwhile, some residents, such as Anupam Lunavat, plan to rent another flat for a year. Lunavat, from India, has been a Zen Tower resident for 10 years. He was given permission to collect medicine, documents and a few other items from his ninth-floor apartment on Tuesday. The family was escorted by police officials as they went up and down the stairs, even helping to carry the items, Lunavat said.

“There’s black soot everywhere in my flat, but thankfully it’s not damaged. The police has been very kind to us; they’re keeping our belongings safe and helping us get access. I don’t know what’s the plan next, but we’ll probably rent another place as it could take a while for this to get sorted out,” said Lunavat, who is a managing director of a company based in Jebel Ali.

Suman Mehta, who lives on the 12th floor, said she was waiting for permission to visit her apartment. “I’ve been staying at a hotel since the fire. But the three-day complementary stay there is up today [Tuesday] and I don’t know yet if they’ll extend it.

“When the fire had started, I had rushed out, leaving everything – even my slippers – behind. I ran out barefoot and had to buy new slippers. I’m not sure what to do now,” Mehta added.

Active investigation

With exceptions, residents are not yet allowed to return to their apartments as an active investigation is still ongoing by forensic officers, an official said.

Brigadier Abdul Raheem Bin Shafee, director of Al Barsha Police Station, told Gulf News that investigations are being carried out in the tower and it will take time to check all the damaged apartments to determine the reason behind the fire.

“Forensic experts are investigating the cause of fire and residents are still not allowed to return to their apartments. We are securing the building as all doors of the apartments are open. We are waiting for confirmation from civil defence to allow the residents to return to the tower,” Brigadier Bin Shafee said.

A mobile police station is however helping residents to retrieve important valuables like passports, medicine and cash, and helping residents to relocate in hotels with cooperation from the building’s owner.

An official in Dubai Civil Defence said that the western side of the tower was totally burned and the site was handed over to Dubai Police for investigations.