Photos by Chantelle D’mello and Chinmay Patil
A fire ripped through a three-story building and adjacent grocery store in old Musheireb Monday afternoon, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky for several hours and prompting road closures in the congested urban area.
The blaze was concentrated in a string of commercial buildings at the intersection of Al Asmakh and Wadi Musheirib streets, near the Souq Waqif and the Msheireb Downtown project.
Initial reports of the fire began appearing shortly after 3:30pm. Two hours later, firefighters continued to spray water into the stained beige building as smoke continued to billow into the air. Al Fazaa police officers expanded the closed-off perimeters, forcing onlookers further away from the fire.
It’s not clear if there were any injuries or if anyone was living on the upper floors of the building. Residents were evicted from the neighborhood last summer by security forces in what was believed to be an effort to make way for a new, upscale development.
However, the buildings were not immediately demolished and some of the low-income tenants, unable to afford accommodations elsewhere in Doha, attempted to sneak back into the premises.
More than a dozen residents and shopkeepers came on to the streets around the building to watch firefighters battle the blaze. One man, who lives in the area, said be believed the fire started due to an electrical fault – a commonly cited explanation for the apparent spike in fires in Qatar during the summer months.
While officials are unable to determine the cause of most fires in Qatar, the Ministry of Interior has previously attributed the apparent increase during warmer months to skyrocketing electricity consumption caused by residents running air conditioners for prolonged periods.
The Msheireb blaze was at least the third significant fire in Qatar over the last 24 hours that caught the attention of some residents.
Earlier in the day, firefighters extinguished a blaze at a business off Salwa Road, near Midmac Roundabout.
— Amirullah Khan (@amirkhan14202) June 29, 2015
— Rob Menzies (@RobertMenzies77) June 29, 2015
Yesterday, a fire broke out south of Doha near the Religious Complex and Barwa City. Some residents reported that it was concentrated on a construction trailer.