Egyptian Chronicles: The Season of Fires in Egypt

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Season of Fires in Egypt

Location Haret Al Reweaai, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
Last Sunday evening , a fire erupted in a popular Downtown Cairo Commercial street destroying over 200 shops and workshops over three days then a series of fires broke out in different parts of the country making the people believe in conspiracy theories.
The biggest fire of all was the devastating fire of Attaba square's Al-Rawiei street.
At 11: 30 PM Cairo Local time , a huge fire erupted in Al-Andalus hotel building which occupies a whole block in the famous commercial street before it extended to other buildings in the narrow street.
The fire on that night Al-Rawiei street
According to the people who live in the area, the firefighters arrived late despite they are two blocks away. Yes, Cairo's main fire department is located in Attaba square and you can walk on foot from the square to the street.
The Attaba Fire "AFP"
The fire as captured on that night by Ahmed Abdel Gawad
The fire as captured on that night by Ahmed Abdel Gawad
On the other hand , the officials blamed the narrow crowded street " narrow because of street vendors stalls" and the lack of the industrial security as well the spread of inflammable materials.

Al-Rawiei street is known to be a spot for shops and workshop of cheap shoes and leather products as well wooden doors accessories. It is also a major hot spot for street vendors and their wooden stalls.  It was  one of the centers of the gray economy in Cairo.

After Al-Rawiei fire
After the fire, this is what remained in Al-Rawiei street from merchandise 

The buildings there are mostly not residential despite their license is residential.
The apartments are turned into warehouses and shops.
Technically speaking, it was the perfect place for fire because we are speaking about inflammable material everywhere with zero industrial safety measures for real.
Another building on fire last Monday morning by Ahmed Abdel Gawad
for AFP 
Putting off a fire in a workship while other buildings and apartments were
on Fire by Ahmed Abdel Gawad for AFP
The photos and the videos from the scene were scary especially that the fires continued for two days.
I went to on Tuesday to find that there were still fires in the completely devastated  street including Al-Andalus hotel itself.
Al-Andalus Hotel after the fire
Al-Andalus Hotel building after the fire on Tuesday 

Now we are not speaking about a big hotel but rather a small cheap hotel located in the upper floors full of apartments turned into shops and workshops.
Very few buildings made through the fire while the rest of the place was torched as you can see in the photos.
People were angry and furious. They lost their work and money in the fire. The debris and that smell were there. People were removing tons and tons of black debris.
Over 50 fire engines and ambulances hurried to the blaze which was seen from other areas in Cairo. Only three people were killed while 91 people were injured.
On Tuesday, the firefighters were still putting off the fire in the street 
Luckily, the fire erupted on Sunday , Cairo Downtown's shops and workshops' holidays.
The number of casualties could have been higher if it were any other day.
According to Cairo's Chamber of Commerce ,the preliminary estimated number of financial losses in that street can reach up to LE 400 million as nearly 239 shops and workshops were destroyed in the fire. It is a big blow to the gray economy in Cairo.
That street was full of street vendors to the level that no car could pass it. 

That was the biggest and most devastating fire we had this week in Egypt.
Just a few hours after the start of the fires in Al-Rawiei , a series of fires broke in several governorates and cities that raised many eye brows.
Then on Tuesday night ,a huge fire erupted in Al-Ghouria historical area which is known for the sale of textiles and 20 shops were destroyed there.
On Thursday morning , another fire erupted in historical Darb Al-Ahmr area then another huge fire erupted in none other than Cairo Governorate's main building in the heart of Attaba square !!
Thursday evening , another huge fire erupted in Damietta and the fires continued on Friday and Saturday.

And the Conspiracy theories spread like fire

The Pro-Sisi supporters and their media , which is the mainstream media are blaming indirectly the fires on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The anti-Sisi supporters are also speaking about a wicked plot by the regime to divert the attention from Tiran and Sanafir. Already many people began to believe that the regime is trying to divert attention from that disaster.
For instance , they believe the crackdown against the activists and the fight between journalists and the Ministry of Interior are part of that wicked plan.
I admit that now people or rather the annoying activists are focusing on their friends in jail and the freedom of press but they have not forgotten Tiran and Sanafir islands.
Still when it comes to the people of Attaba and in other areas who really believe that there is something fishy there.

Since I entered Al-Rawiei street , people were speaking about someone standing behind those fires for real. I met that lady who was screaming about her torched workshop and she told me that the fire started in the upper floors and not the lower floors as the officials and the mainstream media claimed.
Shopkeepers and shop owners can not get over the fact that  from two weeks , suddenly fire erupted suddenly in the famous Sednaoui Department store building also Sunday evening but the fire did not extend to other parts of that magnificent building.

One of the jewels of Egypt's Belle Époque department stores era before the 1960s nationalization , Sednaoui Department store in Attaba is said to have been sold to an Emirati investor by the government recently.
Sednaoui Department store partially torched
The Famous and beautiful Sednaouni building after it was partially destroyed 

Then the fire of Al-Rawiei took place interestingly on a holiday evening. The fire spread to some buildings on the both sides of the street while other buildings were not untouched.
Some accuse the Cairo governorate to stand behind the fires in order to get from the street vendors and merchants and their proof is the statement of the governorate itself.
Yes , the brainy officials stated that the Cairo governorate was going to transfer 12 commercial markets in Downtown Cairo to New Cairo including Attaba , Al-Ghouria , Khan Al-Khalili "yes" and Al-Azhar because of the lack of industrial safety !!
Few hours after that statement , fires erupted in Al-Ghouria destroying 20 textile shops in the popular historical area.
People in Al-Ghouria joined their brothers in Al-Rawiei in their belief about that conspiracy.
In fact , the people of Al-Ghouria surprised everybody by chanting on Live that it was arson and "Sisi should leave'. Yes historically the people of Al-Ghouria were the first to demand the President to step down on air and the TV channels muted them !!!
Al-Ghouria People's chants
People then considered the statements of Cairo governorate officials to Youm 7 was a like a map about where the next fire would take place.
Then on Thursday , we got that Cairo governorate building's fire. The fire erupted in two administrative offices only in that huge building.
Interestingly , a source in the governorate told Al-Shorouk newspaper that the two offices torched in some accident included historical documents of Cairo but no need to worry because the governorate got another copy on microfilm !!
On the other hand , the official spokesperson of the Governorate told Mobtada website that the housing projects documents were destroyed in the fire !!
The Cairo governorate fire destroyed the Housing project documents
There is no trust in the government and there are lots of question marks about those recently fires in those days. I do not know if time will be able to reveal the truth in those fires , after all it failed to solve the mystery of Cairo's Great fire in January 1952.

May be , we will know the truth if Cairo governorate starts to move those local markets to New Cairo.

Other than that , the people in Al-Rawiei need help and I am not speaking about rich merchants but rather shop keepers and street vendors who lost their main source of income in one night in very hard economic conditions.
After the fire of Al-Rawiei, this is how the workshops and shops look like there

1 comment :

  1. Who did it and why?
    Fire requires ignition, inflammable material and Oxygen. Narrow streets and lack of industrial safety doesn’t cause a fire. Ignition due to short circuit in 220 volts distribution network is possible yet not probable.
    A candid investigation can identify the fire origin and incendiary element. People in Al-Rawiei street should stay in-line behind the people of Italy, the families of victims in Russian plane, who are also waiting for a candid investigation.


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