'My child was at the park': Residents tell of 'miracle' that saved them from Sharjah blaze

Fire killed five people while 17 are still receiving hospital care

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Two residents of a Sharjah tower have said it was "a miracle" that their lives were spared from a fire that killed five people and left dozens injured.

The Gulf Pearl Tower, a 39-storey high building comprising 750 apartments in Al Nahda, caught fire at 10.50pm on Thursday, with residents escaping the building as fire alarms rang out.

Alma Nyabate, 45, a homemaker and mother of a nine-year-old daughter, said she takes her child to the neighbourhood park daily at a specific time.

Luckily for her, she was at the park with her child at the time the fire broke out.

"We go to the Al Nahda Park every day and we were so lucky that we weren't at home when the fire happened," said Ms Nyabate, who lives in the building's Block B, which is where the fire took place.

"It felt like it was a miracle. Our home was not damaged but it would have been still very scary for her."

Ms Nyabate was moving some of her belongings to her sister's home as she waited for the hotel staff to clean the room provided to her.

Temporary accommodation in the same hotel has also been provided to some other residents who had nowhere to go.

"We don't know how long it will take until we can go back home, but at least we have a roof over our head," said Ms Nyabate.

"Thank God, my sister lives close to us and we can stay there temporarily until they get our hotel room ready."

Jon Paul, 37, a health and safety officer from Cameroon, said he was relieved that his three children were not home during the tragic incident.

His wife, who works and lives in Fujairah with their children, twins aged four and an eight-year-old, was visiting him at the time the blaze happened.

"My wife always brings my kids when she visits," said Mr Paul, who also lives in Block B.

"But this time they stayed in Fujairah and visited their aunt because they were on spring break.

"We were very lucky that they weren't here. It would have been very difficult to take them downstairs and they would have been terrified."

He was asleep when the fire broke out and his wife woke him up. His flat was not damaged and he is also temporarily living in a hotel room provided for him.

"We are waiting for the green light to return home. Right now, my flat doesn't have water and air conditioning."

The building is divided into three blocks, A, B and C, with block B still cordoned off by authorities.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire, but local reports said initial inquiries found that the blaze took place because of smouldering waste, which caused smoke and fire to spread to the upper floors.

Maj Gen Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, the commander in chief of Sharjah Police, said 44 people had been injured in the fire, with 17 in hospital.

Updated: April 08, 2024, 3:34 AM