'Walked down 26 floors with my children': UAE expat tells how she escaped Sharjah building fire

Affected tenants are being relocated to temporary residences until their flats are deemed liveable once again


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Lisa and her husband. KT Photos: SM Ayaz Zakir
Lisa and her husband. KT Photos: SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Fri 5 Apr 2024, 8:59 PM

Last updated: Sun 7 Apr 2024, 4:40 PM

When Lisa, a Kenyan expat, was returning from her office, she received a distressing call from her husband and her nanny, informing her that a fire had been reported in the building. Her 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son were stuck in the apartment in the C block on the 26th floor of the building.

“They were gasping for breath and were desperate to be saved,” said Lisa. Consumed with fear, she requested the driver of the van to drive straight to her home without dropping off her co-workers.

Before informing his wife, Lisa’s husband, Nicolas, received a frantic call from the nanny who was taking care of their children, informing him that their building was on fire, and urging them to evacuate immediately.

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“However, the nanny could not take the children all by herself, so she kept calling us,” said Nicolas, mentioning that he was stuck in traffic, and rushed to the scene to rescue his family.

The couple's account comes after a harrowing incident unfolded in Al Nahda, Sharjah, on Thursday night, as a high-rise residential building was hit by fire and was engulfed in smoke, leaving residents in a state of panic and chaos.

When Lisa arrived at the building, she was confronted with a scene of utter chaos. She swiftly entered the building and managed to secure an elevator, despite the thick smoke engulfing the premises. Racing to her apartment, she encountered darkness and difficulty breathing while exiting the lift.

She broke into their flat, where she found her children and the nanny. With smoke filling the air, Lisa made the courageous decision to navigate the stairs, carrying her 5-year-old and 2-year-old children to safety.

“As I was descending, I knocked on many doors on the lower levels for fresh air as they were unaffected by the smoke,” said Lisa, who managed to evacuate her family to safety.

Lisa's husband, Nicolas, who works at the Mall of the Emirates, expressed gratitude for the safety of his family amidst the traumatic experience.

Meanwhile, affected tenants are being relocated to temporary residences until their flats are deemed liveable once again.

Extensive damage has been reported in block B of the towers, while block C also suffered significant blackening of walls, ceilings, and floors. “The management of the building has allowed residents of block A and the lower levels of block C to return to their flats, while tenants of block B are unable to access their homes due to the damage caused by the fire,” said Aiko, a resident of the tower A.

Many tenants are relocating to their friend's houses, or hotels temporarily until they get their apartments in livable condition.


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