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Devastating fire in a nearly completed construction site in Al-Khor, Qatar

Only weeks from handover of a large plastic factory designed to manufacture plastic bottles for one of the largest dairy farms in the country, a devastating fire broke out early in the morning, before labourers arrived on site. Despite quick action and concerted effort by the security guard and a team of workers to put the fire out, the fire spread so aggressively and so quickly that by the time firefighters from a local civil defence arrived on site, the structure was rendered a total loss. The rate at which the fire grew and spread beyond the area where it was first noticed became a puzzling question for insurers and loss adjusters assigned to the claim. CEERISK engineers were appointed to investigate the origin and cause of the fire on behalf of insurers and reinsurers.

In the early stages of the investigation, our engineers communicated with the local authority investigators who had custody of the scene and collaborated in investigating to determine the cause and origin. After few days of diligent work on site, CEERISK investigators, along with investigators from the local authority, were able to determine the origin of the fire and report on potential causes at the scene. Suspicion of an electrical cause of the fire was confirmed when remains of electrical wiring to a temporary flood light fixtures were found with clear signs of electrical arcing. 

The aggressive spread of the fire and how quickly it developed into raging flames across an extensive area remained puzzling to the investigators. After concerted careful analysis of the fuel load in the area and the construction type of the building, it became apparent that sandwich panels of unknown rating were being used in the walls and ceilings of the newly constructed factory. Samples of the material used throughout the plant were taken and transported to CEERISK’s offices in the UK for further analysis. 

Earlier this year, CEERISK engineers organised workshops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi during which they discussed with insurers and loss adjusters the fire risk inherent in structures where sandwich panels were used. That risk is mainly introduced as a result of the use of insulation that does not meet proper fire rating in some areas. Despite a high-profile incidents over the past number of years, including the Address Tower fire in Dubai and the Grenfell fire in the UK, some regions around the world continue to allow the use of un-rated insulation, a serious concern for insurers. 

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