Monday 16 October 2017

Fire hits Dubai's Torch skyscraper

Fire damage is seen on high floors of the Torch Tower after it was extinguished at Dubai's Marina district (AP)
Fire damage is seen on high floors of the Torch Tower after it was extinguished at Dubai's Marina district (AP)
Flames coming from a high rise tower in Dubai's marina district (AP/Rhea Saran)

One of the world's tallest residential towers has caught fire in Dubai's Marina district, sending hundreds of residents pouring into the streets as bright yellow flames raged several stories high. No-one was reported killed.

The fire broke out at about 2am local time in the 86-storey Torch tower on the north-east end of the densely populated waterfront district, which is packed with multi-storey skyscrapers.

High winds whipped through the area, fanning the flames, and debris from the fire cluttered nearby streets.

Dubai's police chief, Major General Khamis Mattar al-Muzeina, said in a statement that firefighters put out the blaze before it caused serious damage.

Several balconies were damaged, and a number of people who sustained minor injuries were treated by ambulance crews at the scene, he said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Investigators were examining the scene, but there are no indications of foul play, Maj Gen al-Muzeina said.

Fire damage is seen on high floors of the Torch Tower after it was extinguished at Dubai's Marina district (AP)
Fire damage is seen on high floors of the Torch Tower after it was extinguished at Dubai's Marina district (AP)
Flames coming from a high rise tower in Dubai's marina district (AP/Rhea Saran)

The Dubai blaze happened a day after a fire gutted a building on the outskirts of the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi, killing 10 labourers who had been illegally living in a storage area inside. Another eight people were wounded in that fire.

The Torch is managed by Kingfield Owner Association Management Services, which is arranging temporary shelter and supplies for affected residents. It said in a statement that everyone inside the tower was successfully evacuated.

"All fire safety systems functioned effectively during the incident thereby restricting fire damage to the exterior of the building," it said.

The Marina area is home to dozens of towering apartment blocks and hotels, many of them built over the past decade. They are popular with Dubai's many expatriate professionals.

Police blocked off areas around the Torch. Residents of at least one neighbouring tower were told to evacuate as a precaution because of strong winds, but they were later allowed back inside.

Two residents of the Torch said they were told the fire started around the 52nd floor. Flaming material falling from the initial fire then set a lower part of the building ablaze, they said.

One of the residents, Steve Short, 53, of Liverpool, England, praised the work of firefighters who arrived quickly. He said fire alarms alerted residents to the blaze and building management sent workers knocking on doors to ensure residents got out.

Resident RJ Morlock, 33, of Houston, Texas, shot video on his phone that showed bright yellow flames reaching what appeared to be several storeys on two separate parts of the building. He said residents were nervous coming out but fire crews were able to bring the situation under control.

"I was really surprised they got it under control pretty quickly," he said. "It looked like it was going to go up."

As daylight broke, residents waiting across the street to be allowed back home were able to see the extent of the blaze. External cladding on the corner of more than two dozen stories from roughly the 50th floor to the top was mangled and charred black.

Clean-up crews dressed in orange uniforms swept up pieces of shattered glass and other debris covering the street outside the building. Tram service in the Marina was disrupted for several hours because of debris on the tracks, but it was restored by midmorning.

The Torch opened in 2011, according to developer Select Group.

The tower has 86 floors, rises 1,155ft (352 metres) and contains 676 apartments, according to the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which maintains a database of skyscrapers.

It ranks it as the world's fifth-highest residential building and is the ninth-tallest completed building overall in skyscraper-packed Dubai, which is home to the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa.

Press Association

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