Cooling operations on at Lamcy Plaza

Extent of damage and time needed to reopen the mall not assessed yet

22:53 March 4, 2017

Dubai: Dubai Civil Defence on Saturday continued cooling operations at Lamcy Plaza shopping mall on Saturday, a day after a major fire ravaged several shops in the mall in Oud Mehta area.

Though losses in millions of dirhams are expected, the exact cause and extent of the damage due to the fire that is believed to have started in an air-conditioning unit on the rooftop could not be ascertained yet since authorities can take stock of the situation only after the cooling operations are over.

Four vehicles, including two fire trucks and a team of firefighters from the Civil Defence, were at work on the site on Saturday afternoon. Mild plumes of smoke could still be seen coming out of the smouldering debris inside the mall.

The approach roads surrounding the two-decade-old mall remained cordoned off and entry to the mall was prohibited.

Tim Jones, CEO of Lals Group Shopping Malls, said the mall management and security staff were also not allowed inside the mall since the firefighters were still cooling down the affected areas.

“We haven’t been able to get much information as we couldn’t get inside,” he told Gulf News.

Jones said it was premature to give an estimated time frame for the reopening of the mall without assessing the extent of the damage.

“We want to reopen it as soon as possible. It really depends on what has happened inside. If there is some structural damage, it might take some time. We will also see if we can hoard off the affected area and reopen the rest of the mall.”

Once the cooling is over, the Civil Defence will hand over the mall to the police for further investigation. Dubai Municipality is then expected to assess the damage to the building and its safety.

Jones said the five-storey mall housed some 110 shops and over 500 people were employed at the mall.

“Both the mall and the tenants have separate insurances,” he said. The insurance companies will make an estimate of the damage once the investigation is over.

Residents in the neighbourhood said they hoped to see the mall reopened at the earliest as, apart from shopping from various retail outlets and a hypermarket, they could avail services of some money exchange houses, a post office, a clinic and ATM centres. The mall also houses movie theatres. Though the cinemas are on the other side of the mall that is not affected by the fire, movies will not be screened until the mall management gets a clearance from the authorities.