Playing with fire

AUTHORITIES would no doubt be mindful of the important lesson that comes from the mammoth fire in Al Quoz industrial area that gutted more than 80 warehouses and destroyed property worth approximately Dh900 million.

The fire was not caused by a short circuit in an apartment complex or a mishap in a working office, but by unlawful and undisclosed storage of smuggled firecrackers. It was a clearly preventable and needless disaster that tested fire and relief agencies to the hilt, polluted the atmosphere, caused considerable irritation to people and affected businesses, including this newspaper which is located a stone’s throw from the scene of the accident.

As relevant authorities go about punishing elements behind the smuggling racket, there is a deeper message that needs heeding. Firecrackers and the like are in themselves inherent forms of extreme danger, literally amounting to playing with fire. They come with zero utility and carry a very high risk factor, as has been adequately demonstrated over the last two days.

The UAE is rightly very serious about storage and usage of such materials, but people as a whole need to realise that the final cost-benefit analysis provides enough reason to dismiss such forms of entertainment altogether. The Emirates have achieved the current social, political and especially economic upswing owing to pragmatic policies that have been implemented in letter and spirit. The recent fire drama exposes undesirable elements that have been at play in tandem, threatening that climb to no small degree.

That smuggling and fire material have accounted for cutting off a part of the city of Dubai, confounding telephone and Internet systems, is clearly not in keeping with the spirit that is taking the region forward at an enviable speed. The people partaking in this unique experiment should exhibit just as much responsibility as the government, and choose to stay away from such flammable fodder rather than being directed to do so.

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