Tenants of the ill-fated high-rise, Al Tayer Building in Al Nahda Sharjah got a glimpse of their charred apartments on Sunday evening. A blaze had burnt the north face of the 40-floor building early Saturday morning.
The southern flats are relatively unscathed and can even be livable, according to building management. But of course, taking up residence depends on police clearance.
Meanwhile, the reason for the fire is not out as yet and the building management is waiting for the police report.
"Everything in the building – water electricity and elevators are working and we expect to allow the residents of the flats not directly affected by the fire to return home. All the contracts for 68 flats in the eight and nine series are cancelled and we are giving the tenants an option to move to our other buildings in Sharjah. We will make new contracts with them and the residents are also being offered a package to find alternative accommodation. We have promised to compensate them for their stay outside,” said the manager of the property.
A Sharjah charity had offered tenants in the worst-affected apartments – flats in the ‘8’ and ‘9’ series – a three-nights free stay at a five-star hotel in Sharjah - as unlike their southern neighbours, their apartments may not yet be habitable.
A senior member of the building management told one tenant, “We will let people back in after 4pm today.
“We are cleaning the building and our initial assessment is that the damage is not that big.
“Also the affected flats are liveable and air conditioners are working.
“Some pipe gas locks are to be changed.”
At 10am on Sunday morning representatives of the owners of the building – Al Tayer Towers – had begun meeting tenants and members of those families affected by the blaze.
Families in fire-ravaged Al Nahda building face homeless night out
Most of these families would never have imagined they would be spending nights in a community tent in the UAE.
A tent with no AC and that too just as the weather is turning hot and humid.
Residents of nearly 400 flats from the 34-storied (plus six floors for parking) Al Tayer Tower in the Al Nahda area of Sharjah, that partially went up in flames on Saturday morning have no choice.
Saturday night saw them living either with friends and families or in the temporary tent erected by the civil defence and charity bodies at Al Nahda Park.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, members of the affected families said they are still in the dark about their future as the property owners are meeting and yet to offer alternative arrangements.
“We are upset because the affected families are stranded here and there, and most of them have sought temporary shelter in the flats or villas of close friends or relatives.
“The Civil Defence officials have taken the contact number and names of residents of the flats directly affected by the far.
Only flats in the 8 and 9 series, numbering around 68 flats are directly affected,” said Mohammad M, a bank employee with three children.
“We cannot stay in the temporary tents erected in the Al Nahda Park, because it is too hot and humid. There are two tents that can accommodate 50 people. There are only chairs and we don’t know what facility is there for sleeping,” said the father of another family, who asked not to be named.
There are 12 flats on each floor of the affected building.
“We have carried an elderly Pakistani lady, who could not walk down the steps as she had a major surgery and was bedridden.
“We have helped the women, children and sick residents to escape from the building without harm,” added another resident.
"The tent is a good gesture from the authorities, but how can we use it in this hot climate," added the resident.
Tomorrow children have to be sent to schools and others have to attend office.
Recounting what happened, another resident, who asked not to be named, said, “The fire started on the first or second floor.
The fire alarm went off and initially people ignored it because when people smoke outside the alarm used to ring.
“When we realised that it is a real fire, we rushed out taking just our mobile phones. My 7-year old daughter was too scared, but we have managed to escape and we thought it was only a small fire.
“For half an hour, the fire was not very big, but all of a sudden it spread.
“We don’t know what all is burnt in our house, but my neighbours have lost everything.
“The Civil Defence team have started checking each room affected by the fire and they are not allowing people to go back to the evacuated building,” said another resident, who asked to be identified as D’souza only.
“We could not attend office because all of us came out with just our passports, mobile phones and what we were wearing. We don’t know when we can go back and check. I left my flat open,” he said.
Major fire guts 34-floor residential building in Sharjah
A massive fire broke out at around 2:30 am on Saturday morning on the north side of Al Tayer buliding in the Al Nahda area of Sharjah.
Panic spread among the residents living in the building when fire broke out but they managed to escape unhurt.
But residents fear many pets left behind by them in the 34 floor residential building may not survive the fire.
The reason for the blaze is still unknown.
Civil defense and police reacted fairly quickly and ambulances, firefighters were quickly dispatched. Cilvil defense team from Ajman also rushed to fire site.
However, the residents say they could not see any of the building management and officials during the whole incident.
Residents said the water to dowse the building fire came only an hour after the fire swathed the building.
Till 9:30 am flames could be seen in some of the floors and smoke billowing out of the building but none of the dozen or so fire tenders were seen doing anything.
The residents, who were stranded outside, were asked by the police to gather at the nearby Al Nahda park and register themselves.
Residents also claim that the water sprinklers or the smoke alarm system were out of service and did not work.
In fact, some of the residents tried to put out the fire with the water hose in the building but there was no water there.
Eye witnesses say the fire was almost contained but since there was a delay in dispensing water the situation went out of control.
One of the angry residents said that there have been several fire incidents in Al Nahda area which is crowded with high rise buildings and by now the civil defense should have managed to work out a plan to deal with such situations that have hit Al Tayer building today.