A family say they made a "miraculous escape" when fire broke out in a building in Ajman on Friday afternoon.
The National spoke to residents who said it was the quick response of the emergency services that saved them.
There were no deaths or injuries recorded.
Flaming debris was seen falling from the upper parts of the building on Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Street to a first-floor terrace on the 15-floor building – then air conditioning machines below caught fire.
One of the residents who fled the blaze said he heard the fire alarm but thought it was a drill.
“The siren kept going, and I asked my son to pop out to the balcony to check. He yelled there was a fire, and he could see debris falling,” said Bilal Sadiq, 49, a Jordanian resident.
Mr Sadiq, who has six family members living in the apartment, said he carried his grandson out and asked everyone else to leave immediately.
“The survival instincts kicked in, and I picked up my grandson and evacuated my family. It was a miraculous escape,” he said.
As Mr Sadiq went downstairs, the fire was raging and plumes of smoke were billowing into the sky, leaving residents stunned and shaken.
“The fire erupted around 4.30pm. Emergency teams arrived quickly and evacuated the building before battling the inferno,” he said.
Mr Sadiq left immediately without stopping for his wallet or mobile phones.
“I waited under the building until midnight before a friend took us to his apartment. We left the apartment with nothing just with our clothes,” he said.
He came back on Saturday morning to speak with officials to let him go to his apartment, but they told him it was still unsafe.
“My apartment is on the other side of the building, and it was untouched by the flames. They told me to come in the evening as they might allow me to go for a few minutes to grab some money and clothes,” said Mr Sadiq.
Emergency services to the rescue
Co-operation between Ajman Civil Defence and Ajman Police helped prevent the fire from spreading to the other sides of the building as well as neighbouring towers.
The force said on social media that 16 apartments and 13 vehicles were damaged. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Ajman police.
Rayan Hajo, a Sudanese resident who was in her apartment on the eighth floor, said she was with her husband and two children aged eight and two.
“It was terrifying moments when we realised the building was ablaze. We were late in responding to the fire alarm. We didn’t take it seriously at the beginning,” she said.
“It was a mistake, but we escaped due to the prompt response of the firefighting team.
“We went to the ground floor and were surprised that the entrance next to the parking areas was covered with fire and smoke was getting more intense.”
She said that her husband asked the security guard for another way out and he guided them to the second floor where they found a safe exit at the end of a corridor.
“It was scary, but we managed to get out safely. Firefighters were working quickly and saved everyone,” said Ms Hajo.
She said that Ajman Police in co-ordination with UAE Red Crescent provided them with free accommodation in a hotel.
“We do not know what will happen next, but the building is still closed. I’m grateful to Ajman Police and all the concerned authorities that helped us and saved our lives,” she said.
Debris falling on cars
Tawfiq Mohammed, 43, a Syrian resident in a neighbouring building, said he heard noises and went to the window to see flames and debris falling on cars.
“There are AC machines in the terrace and flammable debris fell on them. Soon they exploded and the fire became huge as the flames went up again,” said Mr Mohammed.
In June, firefighters tackled a large blaze in a 36-storey tower in the Ajman One complex.
Ajman Civil Defence and police teams were able to bring the blaze under control.
Ajman Police said there were no injuries in the fire.
Lt Col Gaith Al Kaabi, director of Al Madinah Police Station, said 64 apartments and 10 cars were damaged in the blaze, while shelter was being provided for 256 residents with Emirates Red Crescent assistance.