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Sat 21 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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Short circuit question over Barsha blaze

Al Shafar’s portacabins go up in smoke as contractor says it “probably” started from one of the window AC units.

The site office of Al Shafar Contracting in Al Barsha, which included eight portacabins, went up in flames last week when a short circuit sparked a fire, according to a company official.

The temporary offices, constructed mainly of wood, were located next to a 17-storey tower project which is currently under construction.

The fire broke out at around 5.20pm on Friday 13 April.

Speaking to
Construction Week

, Mr Murthy, site engineer, Al Shafar Contracting, said: "No one was injured because no one was at work when the fire broke out, as it was a Friday. It probably started due to a short circuit in one of the window ACs. The site watchman spotted the fire and then contacted the police."

Murthy added that the company was insured against situations like these and that even though much wasn't lost, it would be recovered through insurance.

"We lost five big portacabins and three small ones, some office computers, a fax machine and some other equipment belonging to the subcontractor, all of which is currently under evaluation by our insurance company," he said.

Dubai saw many fires similar to this in temporary wooden cabins last summer, caused by short circuits in window ACs, coupled with high temperatures.

"The human factor in the installation process of these window air conditioners is probably the main reason for such short circuits that lead to these fires," said Frank Clifford, fire advisor, Dubai Properties, who was at the site of the blaze.

"These structures are put up as quickly as possible with not much attention being paid to the installation process for temporary structures. It's not even how old the AC is, it's more the installation process."

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