It was a scene out of Hollywood film as residents of the Nakheel-run Jebel Ali Gardens found themselves stranded in the early hours of Friday morning when a water main burst, sending a river of scalding hot water into the neighbourhood.
The flood, in turn, caused a short circuit in one of the cables, which resulted in an major fire shortly after.
Photo by Melika Yazdjerdi on Facebook
Authorities immediately evacuated Ibn Battuta Mall as a precautionary measure.
The incident occurred shortly after 1am, as per eye witness accounts, with the burst water pipe sending fast flowing muddy waters into the neighbourhood with such force that some car bumpers were submerged within minutes and owners were forced to pump their cars of water.
In an amateur video posted on Facebook by Gardens resident, Shabeer, the force of the water shows cars abandoned in the middle of the street, while some panicked people trying to drive their cars out of the rising waters.
Photo by Melika Yazdjerdi on Facebook
Resident Amjad Puliyali, who also shot a video of the scene, posted on Twitter: “Massive flood took the entire road. Whole community is stuck. The water is too hot and can’t even touch it. Pray for speedy recovery.”
Nearly 45 minutes later, an explosion was heard near the Dewa district cooling station.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, teenagers outside Ibn Battuta Mall said: “We were in the cinemas watching ‘Man of Steel’ when we heard the explosion. It was a loud boom.
“All of us panicked, not knowing what was happening. But within a short time, we were asked to leave the cinemas and head to the parking lot as the entire mall was being evacuated.”
One of the other teens described the scene before them as a “raging fire”.
She said: “It was massive. We stood there in the parking lot, not knowing what to do at the time and a little scared.”
The four teens, who had been dropped off by their families at the mall, were finally escorted off the premises by a police squad car, two hours after the fire broke out.
Dubai Police confirmed the incident on its official Twitter account, adding that the police, the Civil Defence and Dewa officials were on the scene to contain the situation.
A Dewa representative on the scene explained: “A water pipe burst and flooded this neighbourhood. This in turn caused a short circuit in the transformer cable and that resulted in the explosion and fire.
“We are already working on fixing the problem.”
A representative from the Dubai Police Ambulatory Services added: “The situation is under control and no injuries have been reported at the time.”
A member from developer Nakheel, who was also on the scene, also confirmed the same, without giving further details on how the pipe burst in the first place.
A representative from Civil Defence declined to comment at the time.
Nearly two hours after the flooding, the fire had been contained, even as Emirates 24|7 spotted at least eight Civil Defence vehicles still on the scene, with an equal number of ambulances still on site.
Water still clogged most of the low lying areas in front of Ibn Battuta Mall, with authorities barricading all access points leading to the fire zone in front of the cinema parking, including the mall exit from Sheikh Zayed Road.
However, for many residents, the ordeal continued late into the night.
Building six resident, Sudanese national Malek said: “I have been stuck with my car in this cinema parking lot for the past two hours. There is still a lot of water clogging the roads and I have no idea how to get to my building next to the mosque in such conditions.
“I definitely don’t want to risk taking my Mustang into this flood for fear of water getting into my engine.”
Several other residents also faced the same dilemma, attempting to cross the water clogged streets on foot, while joking that “it was time to invest in a boat.”
Passers-by in SUVs and RTA run cabbies resorted to giving lifts to stranded residents in interim.
Many also took to social media to vent their frustration and pray for everyone’s safety, with Anas Tibi posting on Facebook: “Actually a water pipe broke then after a while an explosion happened. I was not able to go back home. What really angers me is that this is not the first time The Gardens area has been flooded and no one is taking action to fix it. Hopefully the lesson is learnt and it will be fixed once and for all. Hope everyone is ok there.”
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