Blaze put out at 87-story Dubai res­i­den­tial build­ing

No one hurt badly, but 38 units are burnt, de­stroyed.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Aya Batrawy

Po­lice in Dubai re­opened the streets around one of the world’s tallest res­i­den­tial sky­scrapers af­ter fire­fight­ers put out a blaze that erupted early Fri­day in the high-rise, forc­ing res­i­dents to evac­u­ate in the mid­dle of the night and send­ing chunks of de­bris plum­met­ing be­low.

No ma­jor in­juries had been re­ported in the tower, lo­cated in an up­scale water­front dis­trict heav­ily pop­u­lated by ex­pa­tri­ates from around the world. A few peo­ple were treated for smoke in­hala­tion, ac­cord­ing to Dubai’s Gulf News web­site.

Sev­eral res­i­dents said the fire broke out just af­ter 1 a.m. at the 87-story Torch Tower — a more than 1,100-foot­tall res­i­den­tial build­ing in Dubai’s Ma­rina dis­trict.

The tower has 676 apart­ments — 38 of which were burnt and de­stroyed by the fire, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Dubai me­dia of­fice. Sixty-four floors of the fa­cade of the build­ing also were burnt, they said.

The same build­ing had also caught fire just 2½ years ear­lier.

The cause of the fire was not im­me­di­ately known, but in the past, such in­fer­nos in Dubai have been linked to highly flammable build­ing cladding — as was the dev­as­tat­ing June tower fire in Lon­don that killed at least 80 peo­ple.

“You never think it’s go­ing to hap­pen to you,” said Alireza Ale­tomeh, a res­i­dent of the tower. “I had cash in there, fur­ni­ture, paint­ings. ... Many things that are very valu­able to me.”

Ale­tomeh, a sales man­ager, said he moved to the Torch Tower just three months ago, snag­ging an apart­ment on the 54th floor. He said he was com­ing home af­ter mid­night when build­ing se­cu­rity guards told him to re­main in the street be­cause a fire had erupted.

He said his room­mate grabbed their pass­ports and that it took him more than two hours to come down the stair­way be­cause so many peo­ple were try­ing to get out at the same time. At least one woman passed out in the stair­way, Ale­tomeh said.

Nearly the en­tire length of the build­ing on one side be­came en­gulfed in flames at one point dur­ing the blaze as res­i­dents looked on from be­low. The fire­fight­ers bat­tled the blaze for more than two hours.

Dubai’s Civil De­fense an­nounced at about 3:30 a.m. that fire­fight­ers had brought the blaze un­der con­trol and said cool­ing op­er­a­tions were un­der­way. Au­thor­i­ties shared video of the build­ing from the out­side later on Fri­day, show­ing the en­tire length of the tower charred on one side.

The Torch Tower pre­vi­ously caught fire in Fe­bru­ary 2015; there were also no ca­su­al­ties re­ported in that blaze.

In both in­ci­dents, fire alarms alerted res­i­dents and the build­ing staff knocked on doors to en­sure evac­u­a­tion.

King­field Owner As­so­ci­a­tion Man­age­ment Ser­vices, which man­ages the tower, did not pro­vide any de­tails about the cause of the blaze.

Ale­tomeh, who is now stay­ing with friends, said tow­ers like the Torch should have sprin­klers. He won­dered why Civil De­fense crews did not de­ploy he­li­copters to try and ex­tin­guish the fire quicker.

“Putting out the fire was the most im­por­tant thing, which took them so long,” he said.

The same build­ing caught fire 2½ years ear­lier.

KAM­RAN JE­BREILI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Smoke and flames shoot out from the Torch Tower in the Ma­rina dis­trict of Dubai, United Arab Emi­rates, on Fri­day. The blaze broke out about 1 a.m. Fri­day in one of the world’s tallest res­i­den­tial tow­ers, en­gulf­ing part of the sky­scraper and send­ing chunks of de­bris plum­met­ing be­low.

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