Roads closed as fire breaks out in Deira

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DUBAI // Hundreds were stranded in Deira on Monday night after fire ripped through a building.

At 8pm, more than two hours after the blaze began, the four-storey building on Salahuddin Road was still encased in flames spread by strong winds.

Emergency crews, hampered by the rush-hour traffic, struggled to get near the building, between the Crowne Plaza and Moevenpick Hotel. It was not known if anyone had been injured.

Hundreds of motorists and commuters were affected, with the Metro’s Green Line shut down “for the safety of passengers” and Salahuddin Road blocked off in both directions.

“My office is beside the Metro station near to the Moevenpick so I could see the fire very easily,” said Grace.

She was one of many forced on to the street as nearby buildings were evacuated.

“It started with a small fire in a space between the two buildings where some clothes were hanging out to dry,” Grace said. “The wind was so strong so it spread very quickly.”

As the evening wore on and black smoke filled the air, nearby roads remained cordoned off as police warned the public against taking photos or filming the fire on their phones.

“Many people were taking photos and trying to film on their phones but the police said it was not allowed and were confiscating their smartphones,” said Mohammed, who watched from a building behind Al Muraqqabat police station.

The speed at which the fire spread was alarming, said Adil.

“There were people above me looking out and it was a very scary moment,” he said. “We could see it spread to the balcony and the walls and then the ceiling off the balcony.

“There were so many fire trucks, more than 10, and many police cars. There was a lot of traffic as it was almost 6pm so there was a little delay in the trucks getting to the fire. A lot of the roads were blocked off.

“I saw at least two ambulances and the police were helping control the traffic and keeping people back.”

As Civil Defence crews from four fire stations fought to contain the blaze, a loud bang was heard from the building.

* Additional reporting by Dana Moukhallati