Dubai building fire: Shops reopen as residential units remain sealed, tenants wait to return to their homes

A deadly blaze broke out on the fourth floor of a building in Al Ras on April 15; sixteen people died and nine sustained injuries in the incident


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Sun 23 Apr 2023, 7:23 PM

Last updated: Sun 23 Apr 2023, 10:45 PM

Commercial establishments on the ground floor of the fire-hit building in Deira have resumed their operations since last Tuesday, just two days before the festival of Eid al Fitr. However, residential units have been sealed, and no one is allowed to enter the building except the maintenance workers.

A deadly fire broke out on the fourth floor of a building in Al Ras on April 15. Sixteen people died and nine sustained injuries as the result of the massive blaze that ripped through the residential building. Investigations showed that a lack of compliance with building security and safety requirements caused the fire, and authorities are conducting a comprehensive investigation to provide a detailed report on the causes of the accident.

Khaleej Times got in touch with business establishments and learned that they operate at their regular timings — however, a few open their shops late due to temporarily relocating to a different neighbourhood. "I was residing here but have now shifted to my brother's house. I opened my shop after the incident on Tuesday," said a salesperson at a smoking supplies shop.

"We usually have massive business during Eid, but it was [less] this year as our customers believed we were closed. We will recover soon", added the salesperson.

Manaaf, from Talal supermarket, said they opened the outlet on Wednesday. "We opened on Wednesday, a day later than the other establishments, as we had to arrange our foodstuffs and fresh vegetables."

Restaurants in the building also resumed their operations on Thursday due to the requirement for deep cleaning. "The restaurant was sealed temporarily, and we had little time to preserve and store the food well. Instead, we took two [extra] days to undergo deep cleaning before we restarted our operations," said the man at the restaurant's counter.

Residents not allowed to enter the complex

All the flats in the building have been sealed temporarily, allowing only maintenance workers and officials inside. A security guard is stationed at the entrance and allows only workers inside by noting all their details, including their Emirates ID number.

Every day, many residents visit the vicinity to check if it has opened for them. "We come here daily to check if they allow us to return to our homes. Currently, we are sleeping at a hotel by paying Dh20 per head. We have to vacate at 11am and wander around for the day. We return to the hotel at 11pm, and the routine is repeated," said Hussain, a Sudanese National from flat number 415.

Many building tenants believe that electrical and other safety requirements are being checked before they enter. "We have seen cables and other electrical items being taken in for renovation. I believe major and minor electrical components are being replaced," said a tenant.

Continuing with their fast

As tenants have no permanent place to spend their time, they have continued their Shawwal fasting, which they believe engages them in devotion. "I am sleeping over at a friend's place. As the holidays are on, I don't have any work. So I decided to continue fasting, which has engaged me in praying to the lord and spending my day at the mosque," said Syed Imanul Huq, a Bangladeshi resident on the complex's second floor.

"Six of us [are] staying together in the room. Now we reside with our friends and relatives. However, all of us are here in the masjid for the day, and we all are fasting," said Huq.

Tenants celebrate Eid

"We forgot everything, and we embraced just the Eid Vibes. We did not want to miss out on the festival; it was celebratory, like previous years," said Abdul Rahman, a Sudanese National from Flat 214.

Photo: Abdul Rahman and relatives
Photo: Abdul Rahman and relatives

"Although it was not celebrated indoors at relatives' houses, we have been to the park with all our relatives and friends. It was different yet memorable," he added.


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