Thursday, September 18, 2008


This is my final edition of the Fire report. The National, first published early this year and Abu Dhabi's answer to Gulf News, has done an excellent reporting job again. As an aside, I have to say I liked this paper the day it first came out for its style of writing long, in depth articles. It offers a good combination of info, analysis and commentary. Gulf News has the traditional format of rather brief articles, while longer ones seem to restate what was just mentioned, sometimes in identical words.

I didn't really expect The National to have been able to keep it up but but it has, this time with an excellent exposé on the cause of the fire and related commentary.

Interestingly, the article quotes the building manager as saying that the "penthouse" shacks on the rooftop were part of the original, approved blueprint. Perhaps so, but I'm sure they weren't intended as residences, nor needed for such a purpose, as in years past the UAE and Abu Dhabi in particular was a mecca of spacious, cheap accommodation.

Apparently, many of the tenants are concerned that the building will be condemned, as it probably should be. It is, however, a sturdy stucture, and were this not the land of brand new everything, it would probably be just fine. What it really needs, besides a lower residency count and a lot of paint and facade work, is smoke alarms and the like, which could probably easily be retrofitted. It could turn out that the fire is just what it takes to get added improvements.

If they do decide to condemn the building I suppose some could end up on the streets--well, that doesn't happen here in the UAE. I wonder where the destitute really end up if not being forced to return to their country of origin. I'm sure, however, that some don't have that luxury--perhaps they can't afford the ticket home, or there really isn't a home to go back to. As for me, I'd be forced to face that world of stratospheric rental rates.

Without further ado, I turn this follow-up report to The National:

Oops, Planers Investigate Fire "Penthouse" is the story but it appears to be available only in the print edition. The Gulf News follow-up article will have to do in its place.
Abu Dhabi: At least 67 people, including 14 fire-fighters, were injured in Tuesday's blaze atop a building on Airport Road, officials told Gulf News.

Eleven among the injured were hospitalised, though no one suffered any serious injuries, according to the police.

The fire, that had erupted on the roof of the densely populated 16-storey building, trapped dozens of people on top floors. A wooden shack, built illegally on the roof, and two apartments on the 15th and 16th floors were gutted.

"It took over a hundred firemen more than two hours to put off the flame that began around 12.45 pm," said Colonel Othman Al Tamimi, Director of Emergency Management and Public Safety.

"The fire began from a makeshift home made illegally on the terrace," said Lt Colonel Mohammad Al Nuaimi, the head of the Quick Intervention Team of Abu Dhabi Police.

"Most of the people suffered from excessive smoke inhalation and not burns", he added.

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