A massive fire broke out at a residential tower in Al Nahda, Sharjah, on Tuesday night. Of the 12 people who were injured, five were rushed to hospital with smoke inhalation and seven were treated on the spot.
The quick response by Sharjah Civil Defence teams averted a major disaster. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.
Initial reports said the fire broke out on the tenth floor of the Abbco Tower at 9.04pm, moving up quickly due to the cladding.
Tenants were evacuated from the 49-storey building that consists of 38 residential floors, two floors for services and nine levels of car parking. Each floor has 12 flats.
The fire was brought under control two hours after civil defence received the first fire alert. Personnel from Mina and Al Nahda fire stations attended the scene, while the Sharjah Police Air Wing was also called into action. National Ambulance dispatched five vehicles to the scene, an official said.
One side of the building was almost entirely damaged.
Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Director-General of Sharjah Civil Defence, told Gulf News that cooling operation was under way.
Col Al Naqbi added that all residents were evacuated before the fire spread, which helped avoid serious injury and prevent the blaze from spreading to neighbouring buildings.
The police used a drone to check if there were any people trapped inside, said Colonel Dr Ali Abu Al Zoud, Deputy Director General of Central Operations of Sharjah Police.
A number of vehicles parked below the building were damaged by the blaze.
Chunks of burning debris could be seen falling from the burning outer shell of the building and drifting to the ground.
Residents of nearby buildings were immediately evacuated for their safety.
From the scene
Fadhelallah Hassoun, who has an apartment on the 15th floor of the affected building, told Gulf News he had heard the building’s smoke alarm, but assumed it was false. But when his neigbour told him that there was a fire, he rushed out of the building, taking his pet cat and the rest of his family members with him.
Hassoun said they faced difficulty leaving the building as it was dark and the emergency exits were blocked with discarded furniture. He said the tenants were panicking and pushing each other while trying to escape, adding that some residents were injured in the process.
Amal Heiwi, a resident on the 28th floor, said that after iftar, she heard a police siren, but didn’t know there was a fire until her neighbour knocked on the door and told her to leave.
“We left everything inside as we didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Jahanzib Jameel, another resident living in the tower, said he could not think straight. “I only picked my wallet as my thoughts were on trying to get my wife and children out of the apartment,” he said.
Jameel lives on the 21st floor of the building in a two-bedroom apartment. He said he didn't have an insurance for personal belongings and lost all of those.
Jameel is also concerned about the condition of his Nissan Pathfinder parked in the basement of the building. “Right now, I am thankful that my family and I are safe. I will have to take into account my losses over the next couple of days when I get a broader picture of the situation.”
Amna Adil, a Pakistani expat who lives on the 36th floor, said she, her husband and two children, aged ten and five, had finished Iftar and were chatting in the hall when her friend, who lives opposite their apartment, came and alerted them that the building was on fire.
Initially, the family members took their Emirates ID cards, passports and face masks and took the lift, but then they changed their minds and decided to take the stairs when they reached the 20th floor.
“We don’t know where we will stay for the next few days. Right now, we are waiting in the car park for the fire to be doused,” she added.
Petal Jaison, who lives next door on Sahara Plaza, said the fumes were blowing into her building. Speaking to Gulf News, she added: "The entire building was on fire. A smaller building next to it had also caught fire." Sharjah Police and firefighters were inside, trying to douse the flames. At 10.40pm, she said, the building was still on fire. Residents and those in the shops below had been evacuated by then, she added.
Victor Solanki, who stays four buildings away from the tower that caught fire, said he was having dinner when he heard the police siren. Soon, the fire engines arrived and when he stepped out on his balcony, he saw a ball of fire engulf the building. He added: "It was such a gory sight. Carpets on fire were falling off from the balconies. Curtains too. I am standing down to see if we can help people out."
Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News: "Should there be any Filipinos affected by the Sharjah blaze, they should not hesitate to contact the Philippines Consulate General in Dubai on these WhatsApp numbers: 056-5015755; 056-5015756; 056-4177558."
"We stand to assist our kabayans (compatriots), who are victims of this terrible incident, in terms of their personal documentation, including getting new passports or any other pertinent document. They can contact our ATN (Assistance to Nationals) desk hotline," Cortes added.
Electrical short-circuits, discarded cigarette butts, randomly placed storage items and furniture and poor electrical connections were the major causes of fires that took place in Sharjah last year, according to a senior official.
Timeline of major fires in UAE
February 20, 2020
A fire broke out at Duja Tower, opposite World Trade Centre in Dubai, on Thursday night. More than 300 families were evacuated, though no casualties were reported.
September 24, 2019
Fire broke out on the 16th floor of Al Majaz Tower on Al Majaz Street in Sharjah, on Tuesday night
June 4, 2017
A newborn baby was rescued from a building in Discovery Gardens, Dubai, where an apartment caught fire.
April 14, 2017
Two Asian men died of suffocation and five others were injured in a massive fire that broke out in Al Manama Supermarket in Sharjah.
April 7, 2017
A five-year-old girl dies in a fire at a villa in Al Warqa’a, Dubai. The girl died of suffocation, while five others were injured.
March 14, 2017
Emirati twin sisters killed in a fire that broke out in a villa in Al Twar area, Dubai. The 20-year-old sisters died of suffocation due to smoke inhalation.
March 3, 2017
A fire breaks out in Lamcy Plaza in Dubai and contained by the civil defence team within two hours with no reported injuries.
January 18, 2017
A fire destroys three warehouses in an industrial area at Dubai Investment Park. No one is injured.
January 6, 2017
Three workers are killed in a fire that broke out in a furniture warehouse in the Kalba Industrial Area.
December 11, 2016
A 57-year-old Emirati woman dies after a fire broke out in their villa in Ras Al Khaimah. The woman’s husband, 62, is in critical condition.
October 22, 2016
An Emirati mother and her two daughters, including a top official, are died of suffocation when a massive fire breaks out in a villa in Sharjah.
October 8, 2016
Heavy smoke billowing from a burning air conditioning unit in a 27-storey Spring Tower building in Silicon Oasis, Dubai. A total of 35 residents were treated for smoke inhalation treatment on the spot.
Two women are critically injured and a baby sustained minor injuries when an explosion ripped through their flat in Al Khail Gate community in Dubai.
July 20, 2016
A 75-storey Sulafa Tower, located opposite Oceana Towers and Westin Hotel went up in flames in Dubai Marina, There are no injuries or casualties reported.
June 6, 2016
A mother and her two daughters are killed when a fire breaks out in their shared house in Al Ghafya area, Sharjah.
March 28, 2016
A huge fire destroys at least two buildings in Ajman One residential cluster of 12 towers, close to the border with Sharjah. Severe damages to Ajman Tower 1.
March 20, 2016
A fire breaks out at the fruit and vegetable market in Port Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi. Sixteen shops are gutted.
March 14, 2016
A fire breaks out on the first floor of a residential building in Al Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi. Fifteen people sustain minor to moderate injuries, including cases of suffocation.
February 11, 2016
Around 120 families are evacuated from the 23-storey Al Bandary Twin Towers on Al Ittihad Road. The fire is brought under control in 75 minutes.
December 31, 2015
A massive fire breaks out on the Address Downtown hotel in Dubai, a few hours before the spectacular New Year fireworks. The fire started on the 20th floor of the hotel from the outside and spread to the upper storeys. At least 14 people sustain minor injuries.
November 23, 2015
A massive fire breaks out in Al Shamsi building in Dubai, gutting three blocks, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of residents from nearby buildings and temporary suspension of Dubai Metro services.
October 1, 2015
A massive fire erupts in Nasser Tower, located on King Faisal Street in Sharjah. Around 250 families are evacuated from the 32-storey building comprising 26 residential floors and six levels of car parking.
September 8, 2015
Two tenants die and one is severely injured in an attempt to escape a fire that rips through a one-bedroom apartment in the England Cluster of International City in Dubai.
February 21, 2015
A fire erupts in the 86-storey The Torch tower at Dubai Marina. The fire started on the 52nd floor and spread to the floors above. The 352-metre Torch was the world’s tallest residential building when it opened in 2011. There were no serious injuries or casualties reported.
February 20, 2015
A massive fire erupts in car and tyre shops located in a two-storey building in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi. Eleven people are killed and seven are injured.
August 7, 2014
Three people and two firemen suffer injuries when a fire breaks out on the 17th floor of a building on Electra Street in Abu Dhabi.
July 7, 2013
Three people die and eight others suffer minor injuries when a fire breaks out in a building on Airport Road, Abu Dhabi. The fire broke out on the third floor of a nine-storey building.
April 22, 2013
A blaze destroys ten apartments of Hafeet Tower 2 in Sharjah. Residents of the tower in Sharjah’s Al Tawun area are evacuated when the fire breaks out on the 20th floor.
March 12, 2013
A blaze damages ten apartments on the first floor of a ten-storey building in the Al Qasimiya area of Sharjah. An estimated 70 families are evacuated from the burning building. The fire is believed to have started in an apartment on the first floor.
November 18, 2012
A massive fire breaks out at Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai.
Octover 06, 2012
A fire in the 13-storey Saif Belhasa building in Tecom, Dubai, injures two people and damages at least nine floors of the building. Two infants are also treated for smoke inhalation, while at least seven families are left homeless.
August 7, 2012
Six people are killed in a blaze at a villa in Ajman. Teenager Amr Abdullah is the lone survivor from the fire that claims the lives of his mother, three sisters and two maids. An official said the thick black smoke was most likely the main reason behind the victims’ inability to escape the fire.
April 28, 2012
Hundreds of families are displaced after a massive fire breaks out in the 40-storey Al Tayer Tower near Al Nahda Park in Sharjah. The fire started on the first floor and rapidly spread to the higher floors. A total of 102 flats are damaged in the blaze.
January 25, 2012
A massive wall of flames ravages Al Baker Tower 4, a 25-storey residential building in Al Taawun area of Sharjah, leaving 125 families homeless.