The interior of the villa. The blaze reportedly started on the ground floor and swept through the two-plus storey home. Image Credit: Courtesy: Abu Dhabi Police

Abu Dhabi: An early morning blaze ripped through a villa in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, killing eight members of an Emirati family, the latest in a string of fire deaths across the country this year.

Another member of the family was injured and transported to hospital.

Firefighters and investigators sifted through the rubble yesterday to investigate the cause and extent of the fire at the house in Baniyas, East 7 district, opposite Al Imam Al Nawawi Mosque on the outskirts of the capital.

 I have never seen such a large number of casualties in one incident. I am not aware of the cause of the fire, but I believe each home must be fitted with a fire alarm to alert Civil Defence operations rooms.”

 - Hamdan Al Amri | Emirati neighbour of deceased


Family and friends said the blaze began on the ground floor and swept through the two-storey plus premises before firefighters could arrive.

The deceased include two women [40-year-old sister of the home owner, and his daughter, 21] and six children aged between 2 to 5, family members confirmed to Gulf News.

Abu Dhabi Police expressed their deepest condolences to the family. Brigadier General Mohammad Mayouf Al Ketbi, Director General of Civil Defence in Abu Dhabi, said that investigations are under way to determine the cause of the fire.

A short audio-clip circulating on social networking sites across the UAE, shows the homeowner, identified as Ali Badawi Al Kotheiri, recounting the ordeal of finding his home in flames.

“Eight people died in our house, including two of my daughters,” said Al Kotheiri in the video clip.

Funeral prayers were held yesterday after Asr prayers at Bani Yas graveyard.

Thani Salem Muslim, a relative of the deceased, told Gulf News that the fire broke out while the owner of the house and his brother went to perform Fajr prayer at the mosque. When they returned at 5.30am, they found the villa ablaze.

“We are deeply saddened about this tragic accident, but this is Almighty Allah’s will, and no one can escape it,” he said.

Neighbours in shock

Residents in the neighbourhood told Gulf News that they were shocked as word of the fire spread.

Eyewitnesses told Gulf News that their neighbourhood was rocked by sirens after they woke up for Fajr prayers.

Hamdan Al Amri, an Emirati who lives close by, said: “This is a sorrowful and traumatising incident. I have never seen such a large number of casualties in one incident. I am not aware of the cause of the fire, but I believe each home must be fitted with a fire alarm to alert Civil Defence operations rooms to prevent such incidents,” he said.

An Egyptian neighbour, who visited the home after the fire, said, “The family was very dear to us as we used to visit their home often. It’s a very tragic and painful incident.”

A Somali neighbour remarked: “I don’t have words to express my shock on this tragic incident. May Allah bestow them Jannah.” Since the beginning of 2018, the UAE has made efforts to secure residents’ homes against fires following the orders of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Nationwide campaign

A nationwide campaign was launched following one of the deadliest fires witnessed in the UAE on January 22 this year when the country mourned the loss of seven family members in Rul Dhadna, Fujairah, after they suffocated due to smoke in their villa — only the mother survived.

A month later, in February, Gulf News reported yet another fire that killed five people, including a mother and her two children, after a blaze erupted in an apartment building in Sharjah’s Al Buteenah area.

 

Timeline – Major fires in the UAE

02/10/2018
Eight Emiratis from a family died after their house went up in flames in Bani Yas, Abu Dhabi.

25/02/2018
A Filipino seaman is killed and two others were injured when their towing vessel caught fire following a reported “explosion” off the coast of Fujairah.

12/02/2018
Six people including a mother and her two children are died of suffocation after a fire broke out in an apartment building in Al Butainah area of Sharjah.

22/01/2018
Seven children of an Emirati family including five-year-old twins, are died of suffocation after a fire broke out in their house in Rul Dhadna district in Fujairah.

16/12/2017
A worker dies in a fire that broke out in Factory Mart in the Ajman Industrial Mart.

0505/2017
Two Pakistani brothers, aged six and eight, are died when a massive fire broke out in their shared house in the Al Ghafya area in Sharjah.

14/04/2017
Two Asian men are died of suffocation and five others were injured in a massive fire that broke out in Al Manama Supermarket in Sharjah.

07/04/2017
A five-year-old girl dies in a fire at a villa in Al Warqa’a, Dubai. The girl died of suffocation and five others were injured.

14/03/2017
Emirati twin sisters are died 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.

06/01/2017
Three workers are died in a fire that broke out in a furniture warehouse in the Kalba industrial area.

11/12/2016
A 57-year-old Emirati woman dies after a fire broke out in their villa in Ras Al Khaimah. 

22/10/2016
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.

06/06/2016
A mother and her two daughters are died when a fire broke out in their shared house in Al Ghafya area in Sharjah.

08/09/2015
Two tenants are died and one was severely injured in an attempt to escape a fire that ripped through a one-bedroom apartment in the England Cluster of International City in Dubai.

20/02/2015
A massive fire erupts at car and tyre shops located in a two-storey building in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi. 11 people are killed and seven injured.