Nightmare goes on for Sharjah fire victims
After surviving the fire that ripped through the Al Baker 4 tower in Sharjah’s Al Taawun district in January, Khamis Badr Salam went searching for a new apartment that would ensure his family's safety
However, last week the nightmare returned to haunt him as he watched his new home, including all of its contents, go up in flames in the fire that gutted Al Tayer Tower in Al Nahda and reduced 102 homes to ashes.
Salam, who was one of the beneficiaries of financial help from the Sharjah Ruler after the Al Baker Tower fire had bought new furniture worth Dhs50,000 the day before the latest blaze.
A week on from the Al Nahda inferno, Salam and his family remain homeless. “My two young sons had not properly recovered from the memories of the Al Baker 4 tower incident when I pulled them out of their bed and carried them down the stairs from our 20th-floor apartment with my wife last week.
“They are now in constant fear after the Al Tayer Tower incident, it is hard for them to settle.”
He continued: “We are lucky that none of us have been injured. We were not able to save anything in either incident because my focus was on making sure my family were safe.”
Salam attributes both blazes to negligence on the part of building owners and authorities failing to properly enforce safety regulations.
The Al Baker fire was caused by a cigarette and investigations are ongoing into the latest incident.
“When I moved into this building a month ago, I could never imagine that it would suffer the same fate as the Al Baker Tower,” Salam said.
“It shows that residents of all towers in this emirate are sitting on a time bomb since none of the buildings seem to follow the basic fire safety standards.”
Salam is among several residents whose homes were gutted in the April 28 fire and are still homeless as the free accommodation provided to them by Sharjah Charity International ran out three days ago.
Salam’s family are staying with his sister in Dubai until they can find a new home. Many of the victims of the Al Nahda worry about the recurrence of similar incidents if authorities do nothing to ensure fire safety in towers.
“It is sheer luck that no life has been lost so far but authorities should not wait for people to die in order for them to act,” Salam said.
He says that flammable building materials such as aluminium and metal composite cladding should not be allowed for construction since they have been proved to be the main reason for fires spreading so quickly.