Residents standing outside a residential house near the Ottoman-era Sabil-Kuttab (Photo: Nevine Al-Aref)
A fire broke out early Tuesday morning in a residential house near the Ottoman-era Sabil-Kuttab (water fountain and school building) of Um Mohamed Ali Al-Sagir, located in Al-Gabroni alley behind Al-Fath Mosque on Ramses Street in downtown Cairo.
Gamal Mustafa, head of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the residential house was engulfed in flames and collapsed without any casualties, but causing minor deterioration to parts of the isolation layer and that wooden beams from the ceiling of the Kuttab’s right wing were found to have fallen onto the Sabil’s second floor.
He said that the fire was extinguished and an archaeological committee was assigned to inspect every part of the Sabil-Kuttab to write a full detailed report of the incident to give to the minister of antiquities and collaborate with all relevant ministries and Cairo governorate. The projects sector of the Ministry of Antiquities has started the required procedures to consolidate the edifice and secure it.
Mustafa said that the Sabil-Kuttab belongs to the Ministry of Endowments and is rented to several organizations, including Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar newspapers and others, for commercial storage, residence and industrial security.
Sabil-Kuttab was put on Egypt's Heritage List in line with ministerial decree 188 of 1989. “The Ministry of Antiquities has asked the Ministry of Endowments several times to discontinue the rentals because they are threatening the monumental edifice, but they never reply to our request,” Mustafa told Ahram Online.
The Sabil-Kuttab was built by Ziba Kaden, the mother of Mohamed Ali Pasha in 1869. It was designed by architect Hassan Pasha Fahmy and includes a ground floor for the Sabil and a higher level for the Kuttab.
The committee on site
The collapsed house after fire
The collapsed residential house
The facade of the Sabil-Kuttab