Oasis fire sparked by waterproofing ‘hot work’

Site workers arrested and charged with negligence following inferno at soon-to-be-finished shopping centre

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By  Sean Cronin Published  September 17, 2005

The blaze which gutted the Oasis Shopping Centre in Dubai last week may have been caused because basic safety precautions were ignored during the waterproofing of the structure’s roof. According to sources close to the investigation, the fire started from thermal insulation in the ceiling of the shopping centre which was undergoing a major renovation programme. Police arrested 12 site workers following the blaze and it is understood they have been charged with negligence. It is also understood that the shopping centre’s fire sprinkler system had been turned off while contractors were carrying out hot work on the roof of the building. And it has also emerged that the Oasis Centre’s alarm system was not linked to the UAE Civil Defence. Dubai attorney general Essam Eisa Al Humaidan has ordered the formation of a special team to investigate the blaze. The Dubai fire was followed by another major warehouse blaze in Sharjah, in which at least 80 workers were injured. The fire broke out at around 4am on 11th September in a warehouse storing chemicals and paint, which also included labour accommodation. The outbreak of two major fires within days of each other has led to calls for a review of fire safety codes being used in the local construction industry. Phil Buckle, director of the UK-based National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting, said: “I think this a good opportunity to open the debate around a contractor assessment scheme.” Buckle, who was in Dubai this week to host an electrical safety seminar, added: “Definitely, with unabated development, there is a distinct requirement for comprehensive safety standards.” The refurbishment of the Oasis Centre was close to being completed when the fire broke out last week. The owners of the shopping centre believe it could cost more than US $80 million to rebuild it. Owner Landmark Group said that work on the centre should have been finished in the coming week, with the new façade unveiled on 21st September.

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