JEDDAH: A fire took hold of six buildings, three of which collapsed completely, in Jeddah’s historic center Tuesday, forcing 60 people to evacuate, officials said.
“Rescue teams managed Tuesday evening to evacuate about 60 people to safe areas, while firefighters extinguished the blaze that broke out at the front of six buildings, all of which were populated and within the historic area,” Col. Saeed Sarhan, civil defense spokesman in the region of Makkah, said.
Engineer Sami Nawar, mayor of the Al-Balad district, said that the affected buildings included those by the names of Al-Qumsani, Al-Ashmawi and Abdel-Aal. The names of the other affected buildings were not immediately released.
More than a dozen firefighting and rescue teams from Jeddah’s General Directorate of Civil Defense helped in battling the blaze.
By 10 p.m., firefighters managed to contain around 80 percent of the blaze, according to Nawar.
“According to preliminary information available to investigators, the fire broke out in a four-story brick building made of mud and coral limestone drawn from the Red Sea and roofed with wood. The flames extended to two other buildings within the area through wooden beams at the front of the buildings. The two buildings later collapsed,” Nawar said.
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The emergency response teams rushed to the scene of the fire as soon as the incident was reported, however, witnesses said the teams were delayed due to the lack of space between buildings in the area.
The buildings in the immediate area were evacuated to ensure the safety of the neighborhood’s residents and firefighters combed the affected buildings — including those which had collapsed — to ensure no one was left inside, Sarhan said.
The Saudi Red Crescent Authority established a medical screening area close to the site in anticipation of any injuries that could have occurred during the attempt to battle the blaze. In addition, security patrols, police and the traffic department are working together with the civil defense teams to secure the area.
Sarhan confirmed that the incident did not result in any injuries or loss of life.
Jeddah’s governor, Prince Mishaal bin Majed, is in touch with the director of Jeddah’s General Directorate of Civil Defense regarding the matter.
Al-Balad is the historic center of Jeddah and the primary gateway to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.