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Blaze terrace ordeal: Firemen save four lives in dramatic rooftop rescue

Bahrain News
Sun, 15 Jul 2018
By RAJI UNNIKRISHNAN
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FOUR men stuck on the terrace of a building on fire had a few anxious moments before they were rescued by Civil Defence personnel using ladders yesterday.

They were among more than 40 people who were in the four-storey office building belonging to Al Ghanah Group, a construction company, on Kuwait Avenue in Mahooz.

Smoke

The four men were on the third floor when the fire broke out in the storeroom on the ground floor at around 9.30am.

Since they couldn’t run down as the stairway was covered in smoke, they made their way up to the terrace to see if they could escape from there.

Thirty-eight firemen and 11 fire engines were deployed to battle the flames for at least two hours before they could manage to douse them.

An investigation has been launched into the blaze which was reportedly sparked by a short circuit in the storeroom.

There were no casualties, said Al Ghanah Group director Yousuf Al Ghanah, but the blaze caused extensive damage to the exterior of the building, the storeroom and a roof-top cabin.

“One of our employees spotted smoke coming out of the storeroom next to the reception as he walked by and he alerted everybody – almost 40 people were inside,” Mr Al Ghanah told the GDN.

“Almost all of them got out, but four or five of them on the third floor got stuck as they could not get out because the stairway was covered in smoke.

“These men went up to the terrace to see if they could escape, but got stuck there.

“The firemen had to rescue them using their ladders – which was time-consuming and a bit worrisome.

“But we are glad no one was injured and the damage, though extensive, was limited to the exterior and a store of old files, as well as an extension cabin on the terrace.

“We don’t know the reason for the fire yet and police cordoned off the place.

“Civil Defence inspectors are conducting the investigation into the cause of the fire.”

Apparently the fire spread to the aluminium cladding on the exterior of the four-storey building, partially damaging one of its side, from ground until the top, including a structure on the terrace.

“Civil Defence extinguished a fire in a building near Kuwait road with 11 vehicles and 38 personnel,” the Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account.

“No injuries (were) reported and investigation (has been) launched to know the reason behind the fire,” added the statement.

Employees at the scene told the GDN that almost 30 of them were evacuated as soon as the alarm was sounded.

“We just started work as usual at around 8am. Suddenly there was smell of smoke and flames could be seen outside the window,” said an Indian employee.

“Someone was shouting ‘fire’ from the reception and soon the smoke was all around.

“I was choking but somehow I managed to run downstairs, but some others who could not, went up and they had to be rescued by firemen.

“We heard there was an electrical short circuit in the storeroom, sparking the fire which quickly caught up on the aluminium cladding outside the building; the windy weather adding to it.”

Al Ghanah Group, a company that employees around 2, 000 employees in its different divisions across Bahrain, is headed by Jameel Al Ghanah, a board member on the new Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

raji@gdn.com.bh

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