Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Sharjah fire: cat owner grateful to firefighters who saved pet from Abbco Tower blaze

Members of Sharjah Civil Defence broke into apartment on 11th floor to save pet

Firefighters from Sharjah Civil Defence broke into Cherrie Pascubillo’s apartment to save Belle on Tuesday night. Cherrie Pascubillo
Firefighters from Sharjah Civil Defence broke into Cherrie Pascubillo’s apartment to save Belle on Tuesday night. Cherrie Pascubillo

A pet owner has expressed gratitude to firefighters who broke into her apartment in Abbco Tower to save her trapped cat.

Hundreds of residents lost their homes as a result of the blaze in the Sharjah high-rise tower on Tuesday night.

Cherrie Pascubillo and her husband returned home after stepping out to buy food to find the building on fire.

The couple was forced to watch on helplessly as flames licked up the side of the block within minutes, knowing their Persian cat Belle was trapped on the 11th floor.

Col Sami Al Naqbi, head of Sharjah Civil Defence, said the fire spread faster because it was covered in cladding that was banned three years ago after it was proved to be a safety hazard.

“I only thought of Belle, nothing else,” Ms Pascubillo said.

“In cases like this you think you would think about your passport or your jewellery. But I could only think of her.”

The couple spoke to firefighters on the ground, who said they would go in and search for the four-year-old rescue cat, which they have owned for two years.

“They asked my husband: ‘Where will we find her when we get there?’” she said.

“He said: ‘If she is not around she will be hiding under our bed’. That’s where she was. They found her there and she went with them. They put her in our laundry basket.”

Belle was shaking with fear and panting with the heat when she was brought out.

“She was so stressed. She was really hot and thirsty. But at least they were able to get her,” said Ms Pascubillo, who wrote a post about the rescue on the Bin Kitty Collective Facebook page, which attracted more than 2,500 likes

“I’ll always be so grateful to them for saving her.”

The aluminium composite panel cladding on the tower was widely used during the UAE’s construction boom.

It was a factor in several fires including The Torch and Zen Tower in Dubai Marina, the Address Downtown and the Adriatic building on the Palm Jumeirah. It was replaced in all four buildings during extension renovation.

Firefighters found Belle under the bed of the tenant couple in their 11th-floor apartment. Courtesy: Cherrie Pascubillo
Firefighters found Belle under the bed of the tenant couple in their 11th-floor apartment. Courtesy: Cherrie Pascubillo

The cladding, which was cheap and easy to install, was also used on London’s Grenfell Tower, in which 72 people died when a fire gutted the building in June 2017.

The residents of Abbco Tower have been put up in several hotels including Al Salam Grand, Sharjah Palace and Royal Grand, while investigations into the fire are going on.

Ms Pascubillo was not able to bring Belle to the hotel, but has found a lady who has agreed to look after her until the couple can get back into their apartment.

She said she does not know when that will be.

“The fire is still under investigation. We are still waiting to go back and get our things.”

Updated: May 11, 2020 03:34 AM

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