All photos by Chantelle D’mello
In the latest in a series of summer blazes, the Mall of Asia, a three-year-old shopping complex located in the Industrial Area, was destroyed by a fire late Sunday night.
According to the accounts of several shopkeepers in the area, the fire started at around 11:30 pm on Sunday, and continued burning until the next day.
No official statement has been made yet as to cause of the fire, but those working in the area told Doha News that Civil Defense officials blamed the blaze on an electrical short circuit:
“We were asleep in our rooms because we had to work the next day, but when we got here, we were told by the Civil Defense that it started because of a (defective) circuit,” a worker at the adjacent Al Feroz Trading store told Doha News.
According to employees at the White Rose Hypermarket, two stores away from the blackened mall, the venue was a popular spot for workers living in nearby accommodation, as it offered goods, clothes and other commodities at discounted rates.
Workers at the hypermarket, which closes at midnight, said that a customer had come in Sunday night saying that he could smell something burning.
“An Egyptian man came in with his bicycle and asked us what was going on just as we were closing down. He said that he could smell something burning, and that there was a fire. There were no flames at the time, and so we went to our rooms,” one man said.
He added that he and his colleagues had returned to the store in the middle of the night upon hearing of the fire, but that the Civil Defense personnel on site had blocked off the area.
Stores nearby were only able to reopen late on Monday.
“They only let us open yesterday at 5pm, and opened the road a few hours earlier at 1pm to let people in,” he said.
When Doha News visited the scene today, pieces of ash were still blowing onto passersby, fueled by the morning’s winds and dust. Two days on, a strong smell of burnt wood and smoke remained.
Broken shards of glass were strewn on the pavement in front of the mall and inside the blackened stores.
Melted plastic shopping carts, tins and bags of what looked to be charcoal were left among piles of metal rods, exposed wires and leaking pipes inside stores whose glass facades had broken in the fire.
The three-story, 90,000 square foot mall is situated off Kassarat Street, one of the Industrial Area’s main thoroughfares that runs between two rows of hypermarkets, restaurants, garages and other stores.
No injuries have been reported in conjunction with the fire.