Overcrowding and unlicensed building work to blame for blackouts and fires, Sharjah officials say

Safety experts to survey emirate's buildings from next week

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 14, 2018. 

The house where a fire broke out on Monday night in Maysaloon neighborhood.

A woman and her son died in the house fire in Sharjah that injured 64 others, including her elderly parents.

The Pakistani woman, 43, and her seven-year-old son died after suffering from severe burns and smoke inhalation when the fire tore through the property in the crowded Maysaloon area of the emirate at almost 10pm on Monday.

The woman’s parents, in their late 60s, managed to escape the house and shouted for help. They were rescued by firefighters and taken to Sheikh Khalifa Hospital, according to Safeer, their 28-year-old Indian neighbour.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter:  Salam
Section:  na
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Overcrowding and unlicensed work carried on residential buildings is to blame for power cuts and fires, officials in Sharjah have said.

Fire safety officials are to survey the emirate next week to identify risks to thousands of buildings.

Launching the Safe Sharjah drive, the utility company Sewa said the campaign would begin with inspections to 1,200 dwellings in the Nasserya area, a district of low rise towers and villas.

Unlicensed construction, using a bedroom for storage or using a commercial store for housing is the cause of many fires

Two years ago, a power cut in the Butainah area left at least hundreds of residents without electricity and air conditioning in the middle of the summer, though the incidents have become rarer as infrastructure has improved.

Mohammed Abdullah, a director at Sewa, said the campaign "aims to educate" building owners but that fines of Dh10,000 or more will be issued if dangerous practices are found.

He said unlicensed construction in residential neighborhoods increases demand for electricity remains one of the most common offences and can lead to power cuts.

Unlicensed digging works are also common and interrupt ground cables which has led to blackouts, the director said.

Lt Col Abdul Rahman Al Mazmi, head of industrial protection at Sharjah Civil Defence, said the action comes in response to thousands of offences identified in residential, commercial and industrial areas.

“Unlicensed construction, using a bedroom for storage or using a commercial store for housing is the cause of many fires,” he said.