Sharjah tower tenants wary of return following fire

Residents of the Abdul Naser residential tower gutted by a blaze last week in Sharjah are still waiting to be allowed to move back in.

Munieer Al Hual says he returned to the 12th floor of the apartment tower, on King Faisal Road in Sharjah that caught fire over the weekend, to pick up his clothes and documents. Antonie Robertson / The National
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SHARJAH // Residents of a 32-storey residential tower gutted by a fire last week were on Monday still waiting to be allowed to move back in.

Many of those who lived at the Abdul Naser building in King Faisal Road, however, said they would be seeking alternative accommodation because they felt the property was unsafe.

Munieer Al Hual, who lived in an apartment on the 12th floor, returned to his home on Monday only to pick up clothes and documents.

“The electricity is cut, I had to go up the stairs to reach my apartment. I can’t do it in the evening because it’s dark.” the 32-year-old Egyptian said.

Emirates Red Crescent had relocated 200 families who lived there to hotel apartments until the building was repaired.

But Mr Al Hual, who has an 8-year-old child, said he was reluctant to return.

“I will not come back to live here. The maintenance company did not do its job. There were no fire alarms when the fire broke out.”

Romel Gonzales, 25, who was collecting his belongings from his apartment on the 16th floor, said: “I live in the apartment with my cousin, and the fire erupted while we were at work.”

He and his cousin have now found a new apartment in Al Qasimia, the Filipino said.

“I will not move back here again because there are no safety measures,” he said.

Sanna Saeed, 60, an Egyptian, had woken up to find her 19th-floor apartment was on fire.

She managed to escape but lost all her belongings in the blaze.

“Our apartment was burnt completely, all our important documents such as passports and certificates were turned to ashes, as well as clothes and things we bought for my daughter’s wedding.

“I’m still calculating my losses and thinking on my next step,” she said.

Ahmad Samara, 32, a Jordanian civil engineer, said that he was looking for another apartment.

“I will not live here again, not after what happened,” he said.

A police officer at the tower said that they did not allow anyone to enter the building and that they were guarding the tower to prevent thefts.

Tenants had to liaise with the police to gain access to their apartments to collect their belongings.

The fire, on Thursday afternoon, resulted in 19 people needing treatment for breathing difficulties.

An official from Sharjah Civil Defence said that a full report on the causes of the fire would be released in the coming days and appropriate action would be taken by authorities.