Helicopter Rescue in Abu Dhabi, The National
I haven't made a post in quite a while. Now I've got something to blog about. I reside in a crummy, 17-story apartment block in Abu Dhabi. Crummy because it's an old run-down building. In today's rent control environment, one basically has to stay put even if living conditions are less than optimal.
While at work today, 140 km away in Dubai, a friend calls and says, Hey, your building's on fire!
My building? I ask with a tone of surprise. No one around me in the office picks up on the conversation until I mention calmly that my building's on fire.
My friend reports helicopters circling the building, fire trucks all around, smoke pouring from the top, and he could even see flames. To my good fortune, I could ascertain that the fire was not near my floor, more than half a building below the fire.
More than two hours later I arrive on the scene. Fire trucks are still everywhere, a bit of white smoke rising from the top floor, but little visible sign of damage to the facade of the building. It wasn't that bad, I conclude. I gather from a few spectators that no one was hurt and that only the top floor burned. The helicopters? Apparently they were used to douse the fire, as water still seemed to be draining through the central elevator shaft out to the front and rear entrances of the building.
If there was any wild excitement I suppose it had faded, as most spectators--fewer than a hundred it seemed--milled about calmly. Some, for sure, were residents like myself. I recognized only a few, and the watchman. What was interesting was to see the mix of nationalities and cultures--Egyptians, Filipinos, Indians, Afghans... A few older Emirati men stood by and talked with police--perhaps the building owner.
Predictably the emergency personnel were mostly Arabic, non-English speaking. But there was a contingent of Europeans--rescue workers perhaps. At one point one of the non-English speaking officers was tasked with collecting the names, flat numbers and number of residents in each unit. One by one, we passed on our details. He spoke enough English to communicate what he wanted, although there was sometimes confusion about the numbers.
That was pretty much it. Less eventful than I might expect a my building on fire event to be. I am surprised at the number of emergency vehicles. Perhaps there had been no other such incidents this day.
After passing on my details I escaped to my car. Luckily I had my laptop inside, and where I park am able to pick up a stray signal to get online. This is a live report folks.
What next? Perhaps I head back to Dubai and find a hotel room. I've no idea when I'll be able to get back into my flat, but I doubt it will be today. Thankfully, no one was hurt. I guess tomorrow I should visit the insurance office and take out that policy to insure personal belongings--something which has long held a place on my to do list.
One final observation I can make is that as old as my building is, the fire predictably had not spread. I've seen lots of fires here--on the pages of the newspaper mostly--where flats in towers burn. They seldom seem to spread, although there have been some horrific fires recently at warehouses, buildings under construction and other sites. The fact that all tall towers and tower blocks here are built primarily with concrete (steel-reinforced, of course) means that the danger of massive building fires seems remote. I must also add that it is noteworthy that there were 4 helicopters--according to one spectator I spoke to--about 10 fire trucks and other emergency vehicles to attend the blaze. This indicates that the civil authorities, in Abu Dhabi at least, have their act together. Good on the UAE.
Although I don't normally post pics to this blog (I prefer to let the words tell the story) I make an exception this time with news accounts of my building's fire--apparently much more serious than I was told. There were injuries.
Gulf News photos
The National coverage
|The National||Gulf News|
Abu Dhabi // A young girl and two adults were airlifted to safety by helicopter today in a dramatic rescue from the roof of a blazing 16-storey apartment block in the centre of the capital.
Dozens injured in Abu Dhabi blaze