Bahrain Mall evacuated over blaze
Manama, October 28, 2013
One of Bahrain's biggest shopping malls was evacuated yesterday (October 28) morning after a fire broke out on the first floor, a report said.
Huge plumes of thick black smoke were visible several kilometres away as flames ate through the roof of Bahrain Mall, which had to close for the rest of the day, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The fire started in the storage room of women's fashion boutique Promod, located on the first floor, at around 9.45am - shortly before it was due to open.
Mall staff and early morning shoppers in Geant Hypermarket were herded outside as the fire took hold and burnt a hole in the roof, creating a choking fog inside the building
Civil Defence deputy director-general Colonel Mohammed Showaiter told the GDN that first response vehicles were on site within six minutes.
"When they arrived they carried out a full evacuation, but four people had suffered smoke inhalation," he said.
Three of them were treated on site, but one was taken to Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) where he made a full recovery.
"Only a small store was affected by the fire, but it was the smoke that was the problem," added Col Showaiter.
Six civil defence vehicles were used to tackle the blaze.
Mall manager Michael Simmelink told the GDN that the extent of the damage had yet to be assessed, but the fire appeared to have been contained in a small area.
He said it was believed to have been an electrical fire that started in the ceiling and hoped the mall would be open for business again today.
"It's the smoke that makes it look worse," he said yesterday.
"It must be an electrical fault because the only thing that can go wrong in the ceiling is probably a light fitting. Unfortunately, it started in a spot that can't be reached easily - in between the ceiling and the roof - and it actually burnt through the roof.
"We are worried about the ceilings because of the water damage, but it's only a small area that was affected by the fire so probably tomorrow we will be able to trade again - other than that one store obviously."
Simmelink described the timing of the blaze as "fortunate", since it meant there were fewer shoppers. "Our biggest concern was getting the people out," he said.
"Geant closed within 10 minutes and all the people got out - the fortunate thing was that at that time in the morning there weren't many shoppers, other than in the hypermarket. We will just have to get hold of the insurance companies now and then we can start fixing."
Architectural inspector and engineer with the Prime Minister's office, Glenn Carayo, told the GDN initial reports suggested a fault in the electrical wiring.
"When the fire started it was contained, but the smoke continued running through the air-conditioning ducts," he said. "It has only affected one shop however."
Bangladeshi cafe worker Rafiqul Islam paid tribute to the emergency services for making sure the shopping centre was evacuated quickly.
"The Civil Defence were very good and the fire fighters and police brought us to the safe area," he said. "There was so much smoke, too much smoke. When it started it was very small, but suddenly it became very big. Everybody was taking pictures and videos of it with their mobile phones."
Bahrain Mall is expected to reopen today, although access to all shops may not be available. – TradeArabia News Service