Fire breaks out in Dubai Creek dhows

The fire, which has spread to two dhows, is now believed to be under control.

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DUBAI // A dhow on Deira Creek burnt to the waterline this morning because the sailors onboard used an electric water pump in a confined space, police say.

The men were trying to pump water from the dhow's cargo hold, which contained more than 40 barrels of diesel fuel, police said.

"This equipment should be placed on the deck of the dhow when in use, but the sailors took the machine inside. The fire was caused by a spark from the machine," said  Lt Col Abdullah Al Mazyoud, the director of the port police station.

Police were called to the scene, near the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, about 9am. About 50 nearby boats were moved to prevent the spread of the fire, and the adjacent road was closed because of heavy smoke.

The fire spread to another dhow and also to goods onshore. The dhow burnt completely, but no injuries were reported. Small quantities of oil spilled into the creek, and environmental teams are working to contain and clean it up.

The captain of dhow and several sailors have been arrested and referred to the public prosecution for damaging public and private property by negligence, Lt Col Al Mazyoud said.

The fire is under control, police said.

The fire was visible as far away as Oud Metha, residents said.

"I could see the fire from Karama," said a resident, who asked not to be named.

This is the second fire this year on Dubai Creek. In March, a fire gutted two vessels, killing one man and injuring four others.