Egypt Watch

An outbreak of fires in Egypt, despite the cold weather

Egyptians are accustomed to reading news of fires breaking out in separate places, especially in the summer, as officials justify this by the high temperatures, the absence of civil protection measures, and the poor monitoring of safety conditions. But what is new this time is the outbreak of massive fires despite the cold weather and low temperatures, as the fires occurred in three governorates within one day.

The most prominent of these fires were in the port of Alexandria, when a fire continued for more than six continuous hours in a warehouse belonging to the customs’ authority called “the warehouse of Rome.” The Alexandria Port Authority issued a decision to evacuate the warehouse’s vicinity due to the deterioration of the building from which two floors collapsed as a result of the fire, to save lives.

Concurrently, a second fire broke out in a factory in Qalyoub, on the Cairo-Alexandria Agricultural Road, and passers-by detected huge fires, which are frequent fires in the same area in many factories. On the same day, the third fire was on a palm farm in the village of Qalamoun in the city of Dakhla, in the New Valley Governorate, and the fires caused huge losses in equipment, buildings, and trees.

Frequent fires

Experts and observers cite multiple reasons for the phenomenon of fires in Egypt, especially as they affect everyone, including homes, companies, government buildings, archaeological areas, and shops. During the year 2019, the fires caused huge human and financial losses that shook public opinion, most notably the railway station fire known as Misr Station, which killed 22 people and charred their bodies. In the same year, fires broke out in the areas of al-Moski, Ataba, and al-Ruwei, which are areas that are crowded with shops and people. The fire in the Musky area in Cairo, which occurred in May 2019, resulted in the burning of about 150 to 200 shops. The losses amounted to nearly EGP 500 million. In November 2019, al-Buhaira Governorate witnessed a terrifying incident, as an oil pipeline exploded and burned due to a leak of petroleum products inside a plot of agricultural land belonging to the Itay al-Baroud police station department.

According to what the Ministry of Health and Population announced at the time, the leak caused the fire, killing nine people and injuring 16 others, according to what the Ministry of Health and Population announced. The official data, issued by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, showed that the total number of fire accidents that were monitored during 2016 reached 45,697. Cairo occupied the first place in terms of number with about 7,289 accidents, which constituted 16 per cent of the total number of accidents. Al-Beheira Governorate came in second place with about 3,408 accidents, a rate of 7.5 per cent, followed by fire accidents that broke out in Sohag Governorate, which amounted to 3,323, or 7.3 per cent of the total fire incidents.


Observers point out that there are sometimes deliberate fires, which are active in the annual inventory seasons of stores, shops, stores of government companies and factories, with the aim of concealing the existence of thefts and the embezzlement of public money. For their part, officials at the General Administration of Civil Protection in Cairo said in press statements that the spread of fires in Egypt is due to random electrical connections, air conditioners and the frequent use of heaters.

According to fire officials, operating air conditioners in the summer and electric heaters in winter for long periods throughout the day causes a short circuit that extends to rooms, homes, and shops. They added that the high temperatures cause the burning of some products that should not be in a high temperature, such as silk, paper, and cloth.

Some civil protection officials revealed that they had received 100 reports per day, meaning that the number of reports approached 3,000 per month regarding fires of all kinds. One of the most prominent losses that Egypt suffered due to the arson attacks in 2011 was about 200,000 documents representing Egypt’s history in the Scientific Complex building in the downtown area.