Returning residents count cost of damage

Owners and tenants inspect their apartments, and tell of lost documents, but others have not been allowed home.

AJMAN // Owners and tenants have begun the slow and painful process of picking over what remains of their homes and belongings after Monday night’s fire at the Ajman One development.

Dozens of apartments were affected by the fire, the biggest in the emirate’s history, that started in the 26-storey Tower Eight at about 9pm, before spreading to Tower Six.

Some of the residents of the worst affected flats, who were given temporary accommodation in hotels around the city and in Sharjah, were allowed to return to their fire and smoke-damaged homes on Wednesday by civil defence teams, some of whom were still at the scene of the blaze to make sure the towers were safe.

Many people arrived at the cluster of 12 buildings in the Sowan area expecting the worst.

“When the fire started I was not at home, only my wife was there and she called me saying there is a fire. She left immediately without taking anything,” said Ahmad Mahmoud Ibrahim, 36, an Egyptian tenant who had lived in Tower Eight for a year.

The couple have not been allowed back into their home to check the damage and are staying in a hotel paid for by the building’s management, he said.

Mr Ibrahim, who works as a sales manager, has now started the long process of replacing important documents lost in the fire.

“My wife does not have any identity card or documents now, I was told I should get paper ones from the police.”

The owner of a three-bedroom flat in Tower Eight said the damage was not as bad as he had feared, but it was still extensive and would require weeks of work to make the apartment liveable again

“When we entered the apartment, we found the whole balcony melted, windows and ceramic tiles were removed, the kitchen was between 30 to 40 per cent damaged, bedrooms are completely black and one of the bathrooms is completely melted, in addition all the electric wires,” said the 50-year-old Iraqi, who bought the three- bedroom flat in Tower Eight in 2014.

“The damage inside the apartment is less than outside,” added the civil engineer who is staying at a hotel in Sharjah.

“My wife was not at home at the time and when the alarm started ringing and I saw the smoke and flames on the first floor, I took my documents and left with my daughter. I did not imagine it would increase as the fire was small.”

He said that the building’s management had promised to reimburse him for the cost of staying in the hotel.

“I asked and they told me the towers have insurance, and [the office] told us that we should bring them the invoices of the hotel and they will repay us on Saturday.”

Basher Kunh, 38, was working at the supermarket he runs in the Ajman One complex when the fire started.

“I live in Tower Eight on the third floor and I was at my supermarket located in the same tower when the fire started. I do not know how it started,” the Indian said, adding he has not been allowed back into his home yet. “I spent the night at my friend’s house because all the hotels were full.”