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A massive fire erupted at Nasser Tower on King Fasial Street in Sharjah around 1.37pm on Thurscay.
Around 250 families were evacuated from the 32-storey building which consists of 26 residential floors and six levels of car parking. The fire was brought under control two hours after civil defence received the first fire alert.
Police cordoned off the area and diverted traffic to safer lanes. The cause of the fire is yet to be established.
The right side of the building was almost entirely destroyed.
Helicopters from the Sharjah Police Air Wing were pressed into service to evacuate residents and move them to hospitals.
At least 19 cases of smoke inhalation were reported and nine of them treated onsite while 10 people were moved by the Police Air wing to Al Qassimi and Al Kuwaiti hospitals.
Initial reports suggest that the fire started on the third storey, and moved up. Nasser Tower is a new building, with tenants moving in only a few months ago.
Fire alarm system
The building had yet to activate its fire alarm system.
The general commander of Civil Defence, Major General Jassem Mohammad Al Marzouqi, visited the site for a follow-up.
Brigadier Abdullah Al Suwaidi, Director-General of Sharjah Civil Defence, told Gulf News the fire broke out around 1.37 pm in the residential tower, but has been brought under control and the cooling down operation is under way.
Brigadier Saif Mohammad Al Ziri Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, who was onsite, told Gulf Newsthat it was too early to pinpoint the cause of the fire.
The site will be handed over to the foresinc laboratory to dertermine the cause, said Sharjah Police.
“A full investigation will be launched once the cooling process is completed and the building site will be handed over to forensic laboratory of Sharjah Police [to determine the cause of the fire]”, said Brigadier Al Shamisi.
The police operation room as well as Civil Defence operation room received thousands of calls reporting the fire which affected the workflow of the operation room.
Mohammad Al Hammadi, Chairman of Red Crescent in Sharjah, told Gulf News that the charity organisation will provide hotel accommodation for the building’s residents for two to four days until they can return to their homes.
The damage to apartments affected by the fire will be assessed and the families concerned compensated.
“Around 40 apartments have been damaged, and further assessment is ongoing,” said Al Hammadi.
Seven vehicles parked cars below the building were damaged from the blaze. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
Small chunks of burning debris could be seen falling from the burning exterior shell of the building and drifting to the ground.
Thick black smoke billowed from the residential tower and drifted between neighbouring buildings.
The Civil Defence cut the power supply to the building.
The fire caused traffic to come to a near halt and long tailbacks on the busy roads around King Faisal Road.
Firefighters used cranes to battle the blaze. There were no immediate reports of fatalities.
By Aghaddir Ali