Muscat – A fire in a commercial-cum-residential building in Ruwi on Friday evening resulted in massive financial losses to more than 30 shop owners in the building.
The fire erupted at around 6pm in Dhofar Building, near KM Trading, when many shopkeepers closed their outlets for evening (Maghrib) prayers.
“I closed my shop for evening prayers and when we came back, I saw smoke rising from one side of the building. I could not enter the building again,” said a dress-material shop owner. His shop was completely gutted in the fire.
At midday on Saturday, a shoe-shop owner anxiously awaited permission from the Civil Defence and Ambulance Authority (CDAA) to enter the building to see what remained of his business.
Muscat Daily witnessed roads to the building cordoned off and CDAA and Royal Oman Police personnel working at the site on Saturday.
With financial losses imminent, many shop owners of Dhofar Building worried about their future. “I have been working in Oman for over 40 years. I had a small business; my livelihood has gone up in smoke,” said another shop owner worriedly looking on at the burnt building.
“I hope the authorities understand my situation and help me with a chance to re-start the business. As of now, considering the huge loss, the only option left for me is to pack my bags and leave the country,” he said.
An attendant of a readymade garments shop estimated his losses at RO30,000. “Everything is in ashes now.”
According to the owner of Abu Ziad al Zadjali Trading, who had five shops in Dhofar Building, the fire started in a shoe shop in the ground floor. “We tried extinguishing the fire ourselves, but to our surprise, when we pulled out one of the fire hoses installed in the building, it wasn’t working. We found one that worked but by then, the fire had spread. We could not help but wait for CDAA to arrive.”
He put the cost of his losses in stocks at over RO200,000. Additionally, he had recently renovated his shops and installed new air conditioning systems. “All is gone,” he bemoaned.
The owner of Abu Adnan al Zadjali Trading, which had three shops in the building, calculated his losses at around RO150,000. Showing photographs of his shops posted on Instagram, he said, “Almost all of our items were branded, that’s why our losses are huge.”
A tenant of one of the residential flats informed that this was the fourth time Dhofar Building caught fire in the last five years and that it had no fire alarm. The last fire was triggered by faulty electrical wiring.
“Shops in the ground and first floor were completely burnt. Fortunately, the fire did not reach the residential apartments. But due to heat, there are cracks in the walls and the flooring came out, and furniture got damaged. As of now, my flat is not in a livable condition. I was lucky to be able to shift my parents and wife to relative’s house.”
Late on Friday night, CDAA stated that firefighting efforts were continuing. Ten people sustained light to moderate injuries in the fire and received emergency medical care at the site. ‘Two people with moderate injuries were transferred to hospital,’ it stated.
An official at the site said an electrical short is suspected to have sparked the fire.
(Text and photos by Syed Fasiuddin)