Landlords arrested after fatal Deira fire

Two men who had illegally rented out the villa were arrested in the aftermath of a fire which killed 11 people.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES- Aug 27: View of the villa which destroyed in the yesterday fire near the California Hotel in Naif area of Deira Dubai.  ( Pawan Singh / The National )
Story by Praveen Menon
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DUBAI // Two men have been arrested in the aftermath of a fire that killed 11 people, a senior police official said today. As many as 500 labourers were illegally housed in the villa, in the Naif area of Dubai, when the fire broke out. Brig Abdul Jaleel Mahdi Mohammed, the deputy director of preventive security at Dubai police, said two Asian men had been charged with illegally housing people and with violating Dubai's health and safety regulations after they divided the one-storey villa into numerous living spaces. "Two brokers who have rented the villa from the owner are being questioned in connection with the living arrangements that were set up inside the villa which caught fire early Tuesday. "The charges they are facing include the fitting of an additional makeshift floor, which [had] been added into the house using wooden materials to built a ceiling. "Wooden material was also used to build dividers to separate the living spaces. The men used the house they rented to rent out the created rooms to a large number of people who were living there illegally." Police were not expecting the death toll to rise. "There is no one missing. An 11th body was found last night, which belonged to a Bangladeshi man. His body was not charred, unlike the 10 Indians who perished in the blaze. It seems he died from asphyxiation." The Indian consulate yesterday released the names of the 10 Indian labourers killed in the fire. The Bangladeshi has not been identified. Investigators are still at the site of the villa, trying to determine the cause of the fire. A report was expected to be finalised within the next few days. "So far, the investigation is still ongoing and the cause of fire has not been determined yet," said Brig Mohammed. One theory is that the fire started in the kitchen, caused by a cooking accident or a faulty gas cylinder. Redha Salman, the director of health and safety at Dubai Municipality, said on Monday that overcrowded accommodations were a serious fire hazard. "Increasing the number of people beyond the capacity of a living space will increase the pressure on electrical outlets, which can lead to a series of different accidents, including fire." The men who died in the villa blaze worked as cleaners and recycling box collectors, earning salaries ranging from Dh300 (US$82) to Dh700 a month.