‘I jumped off window to escape sure death’

Occupants talk of horror at discovering building on fire

By Nissar Hoath - Deputy Bureau Chief, Abu Dhabi

Published: Sun 22 Feb 2015, 12:47 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:45 PM

Abu Dhabi — Zayed Ul Islam from Bangladesh was sleeping when he heard a big blast. Islam, who resided on the top floor of the building in Abu Dhabi which was gutted on Friday morning, showed incredible presence of mind to escape death: He jumped off the window in his kitchen to the roof of the adjoining building.

“I am safe and did not sustain any injuries,” he said.

Some occupants of the ill-fated building tried to escape the blaze by taking the stairs, but had to rush to the rooftop after getting injured. They were rescued by civil defence officials later.

“The majority, say about 70 per cent, of those who escaped unhurt jumped to the roof of the adjoining building from their windows like me. The top floor is occupied by eight to 10 people, most of them from Bangladesh,” Islam said.

The massive blaze was reported from a two-storeyed building in Musaffah Industrial Area number 7, where most of the vehicle garages and welding shops are located. The ground floor of the building housed four shops, including vehicle repair shops having compressors and gas cylinders that, according to the occupants, could have caused the fire. The mezzanine floor was occupied by the shop’s four workers, while the top floor had four single-bedroom flats let out to bachelors.

Mohammed Farid from Bangladesh, who resides in a building nearby, said he was preparing for the dawn prayer when he heard a big blast and rushed out. He saw the building up in flames. “It was a huge fire, and when I saw it, I thought none of the occupants would survive it, but by the grace of God, many people managed to escape without injuries. The building is over 20 years old and badly maintained.”

Residents of the area told Khaleej Times that fire brigade teams, ambulances and police patrols arrived at the spot within 20 minutes after the fire was reported. Rescue officials managed to prevent the blaze from spreading to buildings nearby. The entire operation was completed within two hours, eyewitnesses said.

Mohammed Rashid, a worker in a garage opposite the ill-fated building, said around 4am he saw a huge fire when he came out for the morning prayer at Khalifa Khalfan Mosque. The mosque is located on the other side of the burnt building.

“I saw the fire as I approached the mosque for the dawn prayer. The fire was huge and gutted the entire building,” he said.

Another resident, Samandar Khan from Pakistan, said: “The blaze was so huge that I thought nobody would survive it.”


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