Balad fire probe points to arson
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Civil Defense Department have proved that some of the recurrent fires that have broken out at old buildings in Jeddah’s historic area were caused deliberately.
According to press reports, seven fires broke out in the neighborhood in a single year.
“An investigation team has begun questioning some of the accused,” a source told sabq.org electronic daily.
Lt. Col. Aati Al-Qurashi, Makkah police spokesman, confirmed that downtown police have received evidence suggesting criminal motives behind some of the fires.
“We are continuing our efforts to collect evidence,” the spokesman said, adding that investigations are ongoing to track down the culprits.
Al-Qurashi did not give any reason for the deliberate attempts to set fire to these buildings, but there are reports indicating that sites of buildings that have collapsed as a result of fire have been given to the original owner.
Brig. Salim Al-Matrafi, Civil Defense director, said fire-related cases in the historic area have been handed over to the police.
“These old buildings are prone to fire accidents as they are full of woodwork,” he said.
He also spoke of the difficulty of Civil Defense firefighters reaching the area due to the narrow streets.
“We had earlier requested the Jeddah Municipality to establish a fire-fighting system in the area,” he said.
The municipality has since begun work on the project.
Al-Matrafi emphasized the need to vacate old buildings in the region to ensure the safety of its residents.
“We have also asked owners of buildings to take safety measures to guard against fires,” he said.
Sami Nawar, project supervisor, said there are 1,680 buildings in the region, including 606 historic buildings, that built in the traditional architectural style.
“Several concrete buildings were constructed in the area before 1950,” he said, adding that they would be preserved.