SHARJAH // Scores of families have been evacuated from a residential building after a fire broke out late Thursday in a 15-storey residential building in Sharjah.
Tenants rushed down the fire exits as fire crews tackled the blaze, which started in an apartment on the eighth floor. No one was injured.
Across the hall from the burning apartment, Balakrishna Maran was spending the evening with his family when smoke started seeping into the flat from the door peephole.
“The peephole glass is broken, so smoke started coming in our apartment,” Mr Maran said. “We immediately opened the door and saw the blaze and smoke coming out of the opposite apartment., We closed down the door and went into the balcony.”
When fire crews arrived, they told the Indian family to put wet rags on the door frame to block the smoke while they tackled the blaze.
“Once they contained the fire, they came and told us that we can exit the apartment,” said Mr Moran
Lt Col Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Sharjah Civil Defence director, said the fire was contained to one apartment.
“There was no injuries or fatalities in the blaze, however there were simple cases of breathing difficulties, which were treated on the spot by emergency crews,” he said.
One of those was 45-year-old Julia Robertson, who lives on the 14th floor. She was not aware of the fire a few storeys below her flat.
“As soon as we were told by a tenant and a friend, me and my husband fled our apartment and ran down the stairs. There was a lot of havoc as families fled down the stairs,” she said.
“Emergency staff gave me inhalers to be able to breathe, I had a hard time down the stairs and twisted my ankle,” said the Indian teacher.
Krishna Kumar said his wife was taking the trash out when she saw smoke filling the corridor of their floor.
“She rushed back in, and told me that there was a fire in one of the apartments on our floor.”
Mr Kumar ran down the stairs with his wife and 13-year-old son.
“Children, men and women were running down the stairs trying to exit the building,” said Mr Kumar. “There was no fire alarm. It was by chance we got out early, due to my wife.”
Filipino Andrew H, who lives on the same floor as the fire, said he rushed into his apartment, doused some clothes in water and covered his one-year-old child’s face, before his family rushed down the stairs.
“Electricity was cut, and smoke was everywhere on our floor, thankfully we exited the building safe and sound, and slept over at a friend’s house,” he said.
A Sharjah Police forensic team is investigating the cause of the fire.