An outer house in a villa compound, allegedly with illegally partitioned residential units, in New Salata of the city, caught fire yesterday.
No casualties were reported.
The occupants of the house, an Indian family, had a lucky escape. The man of the house was not in at the time the fire erupted around 1.30pm, arguably due to a short circuit.
The lady of the house called her husband in panic. He was at work and advised her to rush out of the house with their child and passports to safety. The family was preparing to go home on vacation.
The house was gutted, destroying all their personal belongings, including goods the family had bought to carry home.
On Friday, a two-storey house behind Jaidah Tower in Musherib area occupied by about two dozen single workers was gutted in a fire, and a day earlier, a makeshift house in Al Mamoura was destroyed in a blaze.
Told about the incidents of fire at the start of the summer months, a civic official blamed the municipalities and said they were not monitoring illegally partitioned houses to put a stop to the “dangerous” practice.
Mubarak Fraish, a member of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) from Al Gharrafa, said the municipalities must roll up their sleeves and take strict action against partitioned houses, both villas and apartments.
“Their occupants are risking their lives. It is a serious social problem,” he said. To solve the housing shortage, which is leading limited-income families to occupy these makeshift housing units, the CMC has urged the government to allow multi-storey buildings in the sprawling suburbs, such as Muaither, Al Azizya and Al Rayyan, where only two-storey buildings are permitted.
Fraish said that one state agency that could easily help the authorities catch illegally partitioned villas and apartments was Kahramaa, the public utility.
They can blow the whistle since they know how much water and electricity should be consumed by those living in a particular building and how much is the actual consumption, said Fraish.
The head of Qatari Engineers’ Association, Ahmed Jolo, when told about the recent incidents of fire, said the municipalities must tighten monitoring and ensure that buildings comply with safety rules.
Apart from the threat posed to lives by people occupying such homes, people from different cultures living in unsafe and congested places can cause tension.
Real estate expert Ahmed Al Oruqui said people living in illegally partitioned villas were risking their lives and violating the country’s laws. “They should at least ensure that such places have fire extinguishers and quality electric wiring so that short circuits don’t cause fire,” he said.
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