The fire that erupted on January 18 in Al Baker Tower 4 in Al Taawun area displaced up to 125 families. More than half of the residents lost their life savings in the blaze. Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News Archives

Sharjah The fire that broke out in Al Baker Tower 4 last January and displaced up to 125 families was caused by a lit cigarette, a forensic laboratory report revealed Monday.

The Forensic Laboratory at Sharjah Police has been investigating the cause of the fire that erupted on January 18 in the Al Taawun area, and has confirmed that the blaze was caused by a lit cigarette that was thrown off the balcony from an upper floor and landed on the balcony on the first floor.

"During our investigation, we learnt that a cigarette landed on the balcony on the first floor but we cannot know from where it was thrown," a police official said.

The police official has warned people living in high-rise residential buildings to take precautions and urged the public not to throw burning cigarettes off their balconies as it is a safety hazard. The majority of fires occur due to the negligence of residents.

Other factors

"The building's exterior was made of flammable materials and the weather and wind speed were major factors that caused the fire to spread quickly to other floors in the building," the police official said, adding that the fire had caused extensive damage to a number of residents' apartments.

The fire that gutted the two-year-old building had forced families to look for alternative homes and more than half of the residents lost their life savings and belongings in the blaze.

The building remained almost empty three months after the fire as residents claimed they felt unsafe living in the building and searched for alternative apartments with fire alarms and water sprinklers.

Due to the severity of the damage, authorities stepped in and Dh2.5 million was allocated to 51 families on instructions of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

According to earlier reports, each family received Dh50,000 compensation from the government to facilitate their search for a new home.