Muscat: Fifteen people were rescued from a blaze by firefighters, after thick smoke reportedly prevented some of them from evacuating their building in Ghala once it had caught fire.
The rescued are in good health, according to the Civil Defence and Ambulance Authority (CDAA).
At around 8:40 on Tuesday evening, maintenance workers at the building alerted emergency services after a fire was spotted by the basement.
CDAA fire engines, accompanied by ambulances, arrived about 15 minutes later, by which time the inhabitants of both the building in question, as well as the ones next to it, were evacuated.
“It was around 8:45 last night that a neighbour told me a fire was seen in the next apartment block, and we were all required to quickly assemble downstairs,” said an occupant of the building adjacent to the one on fire.
“It was all over rather quickly though, I went back upstairs at about 9:20pm,” she added.
Building caretakers said one of the possible causes of the fire could have been a lit cigarette thrown by someone living on one of the floors, which set alight some material kept at ground level.
Equipment belonging to a gym that was situated in the building’s basement was also stacked next to this material, helping to fuel the fire that sent up thick clouds of smoke.
“There were many cardboard boxes filled with items used by this gym,” said Noor, the caretaker of the building in question.
“Some of the items inside included plastic boxes, and when they caught fire and started to melt, the smoke intensified.
“The smoke went all the way up to the sixth, seventh and eighth floors before it began to spread,” he added.
“The people living there were inside their apartments, but had difficulty exiting their homes because the smoke made it very hard for them to breathe properly, or see where they were going.”
In keeping with standard firefighting practices, emergency services disconnected the utilities before moving to extinguish the fire.
“We assume it was a cigarette or some other burning object capable of causing the fire, because the fire took place about 40 minutes after lockdown,” said Reza, the caretaker of an adjacent building.
“The gym closes at 7:30, and there is no one on the premises after that.”
“The emergency services were very efficient in getting here, and once they did, they acted quickly to extinguish the fire,” he said.
“This shows you what a single spark can cause. Thank god no one was injured.”