Large fire breaks out in Abu Dhabi building

Residents of the area reported hearing a loud bang before a building erupted in flames

A large fire broke out in a residential building in Abu Dhabi on Friday night.

Residents of Al Nahyan area reported hearing a loud bang at around 8.30pm followed by numerous sirens as fire trucks from Civil Defence rushed to the scene.

The fire quickly spread along a 12-storey residential building on Al Marwu Street, near Mediclinic Al Mamora, as police cordoned off the area and turned residents away.

The sound was really strong. It was as if a gas pipe or cylinder exploded and shook the place

A resident of a neighbouring building said he heard a loud bang and went down to see what was happening. Groups of people had already begun to gather.

Large plumes of smoke billowed into the air as pieces of flaming debris fell to the floor.

"From where I stood, the fire looked huge. Bits of burning debris were falling to the ground and ash was beginning to fall on people," he said.

"Police were there within minutes cordoning off the area and ushering people away.

At 11.30pm, police issued a statement saying the fire had been extinguished and residents who suffered smoke inhalation were taken to hospital.

The building was evacuated as soon as police arrived and Civil Defence managed to prevent the fire from spreading to neighbouring buildings.

Police said the fire broke out on the seventh floor of the building but the cause has yet to be determined.

Cooling operations were under way on Friday night.

Eyewitnesses said the area was cordoned off.

"The sound was really strong. It was as if a gas pipe or cylinder exploded and shook the place," said Mohammed Ahmed, 24, an Egyptian assistant chef in a sweetshop next door.

"When I was in the shop and heard the first explosion I thought it was a bomb. The place was shaking, so I immediately went out to see what happened.

"We saw fire coming out of a window, and fire balls were dropping on the ground. Then the fire escalated to the upper floor, and we heard the same bang again."

"The firefighters arrived in four or five minutes. I live near Al Wahda Mall, which is about 5km away. It was really loud and even my roommates heard it."

Rose Macamay, 45, from the Philippines, said her friend lives in the building.

“She has a three-month-old baby and her mother was with her. They were very scared," she said.

"They stayed outside the building for three hours until they could find a place to stay."

She said the street was crowded with residents.