DUBAI // Two people were killed and one person seriously injured after they jumped from the third floor of an apartment building to escape a fire in a flat where 22 men were living.
Dubai Civil Defence crews from Al Rashidiya station rescued seven men from the balcony of the one-bedroom home in the England cluster at International City. The blaze, which was reported at about 9.40pm on Monday, did not spread to other homes. Shahnawaz, 35, who works near the building, said he saw three people jump down to the street to escape the smoke and flames.
“I saw them jump, it was bad. The one that landed on the street and the other who landed on the pavement died,” he said.
“The third person landed in the sandpit where there are some plants and broke his arm.”
Brig Obeid Al Sayegh, assistant director of Dubai Civil Defence, said the fire started in the kitchen and spread to the living room where mattresses laid out on the floor and other furniture quickly caught alight.
He said 10 men were sleeping in the living room and 12 in the bedroom. It is not known how many people were home when the fire started.
Brig Al Sayegh said so many people living in one small apartment created a significant fire and health and safety hazard.
S M, who lives in International City, said overcrowding in apartments was a common problem in the sprawling studio and one-bed-flat development just off the Dubai-Al Ain road.
“There are units over here where you have 15 to 30 people sometimes living together, which is very dangerous,” he said. “It is not only a fire hazard, but it’s also concerning when it comes to health issues.
“All these people living together, and all the germs, that cannot be good.”
A female resident, S M, said overcrowding also meant the area was very noisy, especially in the evenings.
“We have called the police before because a bunch of men would be sitting making a lot of noise at a cafe near by,” she said. “The police do come and tell them to stop, but it happens again.”
The maximum number of people allowed to live in a studio apartment is three, with five in a one-bed and seven in a two-bedroom apartment, said Arif Al Dehail, chief executive of Trakhees, the management arm of the Ports, Customs and Free Zone cooperation that checks properties and fines landlords who breach rules governing the number of occupants per home.
“Overcrowding can affect the infrastructure of the building and the city, including the sewage system, parking and traffic,” Mr Al Dehail said. Periodic inspections are carried out to tackle the problem, he said.
Meanwhile, Nakheel, International City’s developer, said the authorities were continuing to investigate Monday’s fire.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families at this difficult time,” a spokeswoman said. “The incident is under investigation by the appropriate authorities, with whom we are fully cooperating.
“In the meantime, we can confirm that our firefighting system was activated effectively, and the fire did not spread to any other units in the building.”
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(via The National)