Dubai: 'Hero' tenant saves several lives in massive International City building fire

Authorities evacuated the entire building after a fire on Saturday night and many residents were still waiting outside for further instructions

by

Waheed Abbas

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Published: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 6:12 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Dec 2023, 4:22 PM

A hotel apartment in the Chinese Cluster of the International City remained cordoned off on Sunday afternoon, after a major fire killed one and seriously injured many others on Saturday, December 23.

Authorities evacuated the entire building after a fire on Saturday night and many residents were still waiting outside for further instructions. Drones and helicopters were also deployed in order to evaluate the fire and help the fire-fighting teams to put out the flames.

One person died and two sustained serious injuries in the fire that broke on the upper floors of the eight-storey building. They were occupied by expats from several nationalities including Africans, Chinese, Indians and Pakistanis. The fire was successfully contained immediately. The building houses around 12 apartments on each floor.

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Many tenants stepped up on the day of the incident – saving several lives. One among them was Sadiq.

A hero to residents of the building, he "went up and down twice to [inform] tenants of the fire and evacuate them".

“I lost my balance and fell three times due to smoke during this whole episode. I knew around 40 people who were living in the building and rescued dozens of them," he told Khaleej Times in an interview.

"[During the first attempt,] I came down from the seventh floor, knocking on the doors of the residents who were my acquaintances. Within a few seconds, the entire floor was engulfed in smoke."

During the second attempt, Sadiq could go only as far as the fourth floor to rescue people.

“When I came out of the building, my face was a bit dark due to the smoke. My nose and eyes were burning and it was getting difficult to breathe.”

He said some people were going back to the top floor to get their wallets, but he discouraged them from risking their lives as it was getting intense. “Humanity should come first for all of us,” he said.

Sadiq added that the deceased was a lady from an African country who used to come to clean his apartment.

Rescued by cranes

Dubai Media Office late on Saturday shared a video of a resident, who looked dazed and confused, being evacuated from the building by rescue workers.

On Sunday, police officials and the building’s security guard were seen stationed outside the building, preventing residents from going to their apartments due to safety and security reasons.

Residents of the building and eyewitnesses hailed police, rescue and civil defence teams for their incredible efforts in saving the lives of dozens of people.

“One person climbed down the building’s pipe. Another person and two children standing on the balcony waiting for help were rescued by the cranes deployed by the rescue teams. An Indian girl who was finding it difficult to stand on the balcony due to heat and smoke emanating from the building was rescued just in time,” said Babu, a Nepalese national who witnessed the incident.

Recalling the incident, another Indian expat, who has asked to remain unnamed, said: “I was taking a shower when the fire broke out. I soon realised there was smoke within our apartment. One of my flatmates came and informed us about the fire. We then banged on other flatmates’ doors and rushed out of the building."

"Many people successfully managed to get out in time. I saw parents running out, carrying their children. Thank God it didn’t happen at night because most of the people would have been sleeping,” he added.

“We are waiting outside as residents are not allowed to go back into the building,” he said.

Since it was the weekend, many tenants were home in the afternoon.

“The fire broke out on one of the upper floors at around 4pm. The authorities did a fantastic job, using all resources like helicopters, drones fire-fighting vehicles and cranes to save the lives of the residents,” Amjad Ali, a Pakistani national who lives in a building nearby, said.

When Khaleej Times contacted the hotel apartment, the spokesperson said it was fully booked and they were not taking any bookings.

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