Watch: 250 families affected in major Sharjah tower fire

Watch: 250 families affected in major Sharjah tower fire
A shot from today's fire in Sharjah's Al Naser Tower.

The fire also destroyed four cars in the parking levels.

By Afkar Abdullah/Web Report

Published: Thu 1 Oct 2015, 2:27 PM

Last updated: Fri 2 Oct 2015, 2:06 AM

Massive fire gutted completely all 24 residential stories of Al Naser tower located on King Faisal Road leaving 250 families homeless. 
The whole building comprises 32 floors, including 24 residential and six parking levels.
According to initial reports, the fire started at 2:15pm in an apartment on the first floor and moved to upper level until it reached the top of the building. 
The fire also destroyed four cars in the parking levels.
The residents of the gutted and neighboring buildings were evacuated by Air wing, police and early intervention units. Fire fighters from all stations worked on dousing the flames. The police patrols blocked roads leading towards the building and five ambulances have been deployed for treating suffocation cases. 
At least 40 people are being treated for smoke inhalation. There are no casualties, confirmed officials from Sharjah Civil Defence.
Also read: Major fires in Sharjah during 2015
The operation
Abdullah Al Suwaidi, Director General of Sharjah civil defence told Khaleej Times, that they divided the team into two units, one for evacuation and other one for fighting the fire. Police have been deployed in all areas to prevent onlookers from crowding in dangerous area and direct the cars in order to facilitate the work of civil defence.
"All the injured have been rushed to Kuwaiti and Al Qasimi Hospitals," said Suwaidi added.
He said all firefighters from the neighbouring emirates were trying to battle the blaze.
The police took to social media to instruct the public to avoid King Faisal road and use alternative routes.
The Red Crescent and other charity organisations have reached the site trying to help the affected residents, by putting them up in hotels.
See photos from the fire here.
Speaking to Khaleej Times,  Safwan Abdulkarreem, living in apartment number 1608, said that he and his wife, who were both at work, received a call at his office informing him about the fire in the apartment.
"I rushed to the building and tried to enter to collect my important documents, but I was prevented by the police. Now I have no belongings left inside the flat. I don't have cash and anything with me; we don't know what to do and where we are supposed to spend the night."
While talking to residents, a Syrian woman in her late thirties was seen running towards the building and screaming about her children being locked in the flat.  She was stopped by the police as she struggled to get inside the building. The police calmed her down and informed her that her children were evacuated and are in the ambulance receiving treatment for suffocation. Another UAE national woman, concerned for the safety of her maid at her home, as she said she would be held responsible in case something happened to her maid. The police then evacuated the maid.
Azza Abdullraheem said all her three children were in school and she was sleeping when the fire broke out. She added that due to lack of alarms she wasn't aware that there was a fire in her building until her friend living in the neighboring building called her and told her to leave the apartment.
"People stampeded in the exits and stepped on me," she added.
Other residents Assif, said he was sleeping and didn't know there was a fire in his building until he heard the noise of the helicopter close to his window and woke up.
Khaleej Times contacted the really estate company,N.M.A, that manage the building, but got no answer as the mobile of the manager was switched off. 
Another distressed resident, who did not want to be named, spoke to Khaleej Times, saying that smoke was seeping into her flat woke her up from her sleep, "I opened my door to see what is going on and found residents making a dash towards the staircase and at the same time screaming that  the building is on fire.
"The elevators came to a standstill and there was this rush to get out on the street as soon as possible. I was all alone at home when the fire broke out. This is a 25-story residential building and my one bedroom flat is located on the 14th floor. The helicopters and fire fighters are on the scene. We dont know as of now if there are anyone stuck inside the building. From where I am standing I can see windows and glass peices exploding. No one is willing to give us any information and we are all waiting downstairs in the heat," she said.
Sharjah Electricity
According to the residents, the building lacks minimum fire protection equipment, such as alarm, singulars and extinguishers. The Air wing helicopter evacuated people from all floors, using loud speakers to call them to leave the building, police and civil defence rescue missions had to knock at doors to evacuate the residents. 
Some residents were injured during the stampede as they exited the building in panic.
The building, formerly called Continental Tower, was renamed after it was sold to a Shaikh from Qatar who changed the name to Al Naser Tower.
Resident complained the building was not properly maintained and wires were not covered. Two months before the tenants lodged complaints against the owner for failing to fix the AC system during the hot summer, but no action had been taken from his side.
Sharjah municipality had to intervene and fix the cooling system on 'humanitarian grounds'.
(Khaleej Times video by M.Sajjad)

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