A massive fire broke out in a residential building on Salah Al Deen Street near Muraqqabat police station shortly after 5pm on Monday, destroying three blocks, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of residents from nearby buildings and the suspension of Dubai Metro services.
The fire was put under control at around 10.20pm, but smoke could still be seen bellowing out of the building. There was no immediate word on causalities.
The fire destroyed three blocks of the five-storey Al Shamsi building.
The fire started in Block B and rapidly spread to Blocks A and C as fire fighters battled to prevent flames spreading to nearby buildings, including a petrol station and a five-star hotel.
Several massive explosions were earlier heard as firemen attempted to rescue residents stranded in the building. The blasts apparently came from gas cylinders exploding and the roof of one of the blocks seemed to have caved in. Strong winds made it difficult for fire personnel to quickly put out the fire.
However, firefighters and dozens of fire trucks succeeded in preventing the fire from spreading to the petrol station and also evacuated a section of the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Fresh reinforcements arrived as the Civil Defence team tackled the blaze from multiple angles. Fire trucks with replenished water tankers were seen constantly moving in and out of the area.
Four buildings behind the Al Shamsi building were evacuated and all residents were waiting in a sandy plot. Many residents were distraught and were weeping.
People were seen moving around wearing masks as smoke enveloped areas even several hundred metres away from the fire site.
"My eyes are burning and I can't breathe properly. I am afraid for my kids that they might fall sick by inhaling the smoke," said a resident of a building opposite the fire site.
Nearby localities of Hor Al Anz, Muteena, Muraqqabat and Abu Hail were covered in soot as the fire engulfed several apartments in the three blocks.
Fatima, who has been living in the building for one year, was at work when the fire erupted but her friends were inside the building.
She said: “My roommates ran out. But they couldn’t gather any belongings. All our valuables and documents and like passports and certificates are inside.”
The area surrounding building was sealed off. Residents of four buildings near the area were also evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Courtesy: Abu Hurairah/Gulf News reader
Police earlier closed Salah Al Deen Street to traffic as fire fighters doused the blaze that started at around 5.52pm, a Civil Defence spokesman said. Some roads were opened up at around 10.30pm, but part of Abu Bakr Siddique road remained closed.
Teams from three fire stations–Al Hamriya, Rashidiya and Al Qusais– battled the fire.
According to residents who escaped the fire, the blaze broke out around 5.30pm and they ran out when the alarm went off.
“I was sleeping, when I woke up with loud sound of a fire alarm and as we ran out we saw fire on the fifth floor,” said Shena, a resident of the building. She added that there were no fire exits to the building, which is at least 30 years old.
Another resident, Christine, said there were no sprinklers or other emergency equipment in the building.
“I saw the fire and I was looking for the extinguishers but I couldn't find any. Getting out was also difficult and there was nobody to rescue us initially. We helped each other and risked our lives in running out,” the Filipina said.
Footage taken by Ashfaq Ahmed, Gulf News
Metro services were suspended between Union and Abu Hail stations on the Green Line, the Roads and Transport Authority told Gulf News. The services would resume once the fire is brought under control, they added.
Thousands of people gathered on the road near Muraqqabat police station, leading to a massive traffic jam and authorities urged people stay away from Deira area.
In a Twitter message, Dubai Police urged the public to exercise caution.
Dozens of residents were trapped inside the building as firemen battled to put out the fire, but were all rescued quickly. The area surrounding the building has been sealed off within several hundred metres of the fire site.
Farnaz Davari, an Iranian expat who lives in the area, said she could still see flames at 7.30pm.
"I was taking a nap and when I woke up at around 5.30pm, I saw the fire from my 5th floor window. People on the street were rushing towards the building to get a better look," she said.
"The police have blocked off the road. Two RTA public transport buses are still there because they couldn't leave. People are looking on. My brother said the Dubai Metro Green Line is not in service on the street as the line passes close to the building."
Courtesy of Khalil
Another witness, Indian expat Mohammad Hassan, said that traffic in the area has come to a standstill.
"I live opposite the building on fire, behind Muraqqabat police station, and I can't leave the area because there's no movement on the road," he said.
"The building has three blocks: A, B, and C. Fire in the block next to the petrol station - I think it's the C block - has been put out," Hassan added.
“None of us could gather anything as we were scared [and ran out],” said Abdurrahman, who works as a security guard in a hotel and lives in Al Shamsi building.
His colleague, Ajay, who also resides in Al Shamsi, said he is worried that his passport, degrees and other belongings are all burnt.
Footage by Joyie Dimaano Catalan
Dexter, a Filipino, whose friend’s apartment was apparently burnt seemed concerned as he was unable to reach out to his friend.
“I don’t know where he is, hopefully he is safe, but his apartment is totally burnt. I came here to see him, but the area is cordoned off and it is not possible to reach him,” said Dexter.
Some residents were in tears as they awaited the fate of their loved ones.
Footage courtesy of Khalil/Gulf News reader
The cause of the fire is still not known, but an eyewitness, who lives in a neighbouring building, said that some people were having a barbecue in a small garden area on the first floor of Al Shamsi building, which could have caused the fire. However, this could not be immediately confirmed or verified by the authorities.
Source: Gulf News