FUJAIRAH // Devastated shop owners are counting the cost of a fire that tore through Masafi’s Friday Market at the weekend.
The blaze, which destroyed 13 carpet and furniture shops and 16 fruit and vegetable outlets, broke out about 5pm on Saturday. No injuries were reported.
But business owners say they face ruin because insurers do not recognise them as shops
Carpet shop owner Bustan Jalil, 68, said he lost everything to the fire.
“We lost official documents, 15 passports and a shop worth Dh15 million,” said Mr Jalil, who owns Al Bustan. “The insurance doesn’t cover anything because they don’t consider us as regular shops.
“I have 15 workers and we will wait for the municipality to finish cleaning the area to rebuild.”
Mohammed Al Afkham, director of Fujairah Municipality, said the clean-up would be finished in a week and prevention measures would be introduced.
“We are planning to provide firefighting training courses to the workers and shop owners,” Mr Al Afkham said.
“We will also work on building cement partitions between stalls to control fires.”
Another carpet shop, Al Safa, was also destroyed.
“I have been working in the carpet business for 22 years and this is my biggest loss in years,” said owner Mohammed Khan, 55, from Pakistan. “It’s our family business. All of my sons and brothers are working with me and we are in deep shock.
“We had Dh13m worth of merchandise and I don’t know what will happen next.
“No compensation from any insurance would cover this case – they consider us stalls not shops.”
As a result of the blaze, Fujairah Civil Defence will impose new safety requirements at all shops in the souq to provide a comprehensive database of security and safety systems inside the market, reported Al Ittihad, the Arabic-language sister paper of The National.
Those who fail to obey the rules will face fines, said Col Ali Al Tunaiji, director of Fujairah Civil Defence.
Hajal Acharjee, 42, has been selling vegetables in the market for 17 years.
“The fire was huge and this is the first time such a thing happened here in the market,” Mr Acharjee said. “We don’t have fire extinguishers and we don’t know how to deal with fire if it occurs.
“It took them more than six hours to control the fire and 45 minutes to arrive at the site. The fire ate everything within about 15 to 20 minutes due to the huge amount of carpet and rugs.”
He said more safety precautions and fire extinguishers should be installed.
Witnesses said it did not take long for the fire to spread.
“The fire started quickly in the carpet shop near the Adnoc gas station and everybody started running and calling the police and it took 15 minutes to destroy around 29 stalls,” said Bangladeshi Mohammed Masum, 27.
Mr Masum said that an electrical fault was believed to have started the fire.
“The firefighters stopped near the gas station to prevent the fire from reaching the station, which would have caused a disaster,” he said. “But the wind was on their side. Workers said that an electrical fault in one of the bulbs caused the fire.”
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(via The National)