(The Telegraph) – A fire ripped through one of the world’s tallest residential towers in Dubai last night, sending panicked residents fleeing from the building.
Debris could be seen spiralling to the ground across the famous Marina district of the city as the fire consumed multiple floors of the Torch Tower after midnight.
Authorities quickly evacuated the residents and no injuries were reported.
“We were sleeping and we woke up to the fire alarm and people screaming. We ran down the stairs and it took us about 10 minutes to reach from the 50th floor.
“The fire was very strong at that time, about 1 am. Then it started calming down over the next two hours. It started on the 67th floor, that’s what we were told.”
Dubai Civil Defence said the fire had been brought under control and cooling operations were underway.
The 1,100ft, 79-storey skyscraper, which is known to be popular with expatriate residents of the UAE city, was devastated by a fire in February 2015. There were no deaths in that fire.
The external cladding on the building was blamed for the rapid spread of the 2015 fire, leading to the decision to fully renovate the exterior cladding – works which began last summer and were believed to be ongoing.
In June, a fire at Grenfell tower in west London led to at least 80 deaths.
The growth of the fire was made worse by the tower’s exterior cladding, which was similar to the materials used at Dubai’s Torch tower.
Cara Spillane tweeted: “Terrifying to see Torch Tower, in the area I live in (Dubai Marina) on fire now.
“Hope everyone gets out OK.”
Reports on social media suggested the fire reached the roof rapidly, with an entire side of the building engulfed in flames.
A witness told Gulf News: “Smoke is everywhere. The streets are covered in debris.”
Authorities later shared a photo of the charred and blackened tower but it was no longer visibly in flames. Officials said they were now working on providing shelter for those affected.
In January Dubai announced tougher rules to minimize fire risks after a series of tower blazes in the modern emirate mostly due to flammable material used in cladding, a covering or coating used on the side of the buildings.
On New Year’s Eve 2015 a fire broke out in a luxury hotel, injuring 16 people hours before a fireworks display nearby.
In November 2015, fire engulfed three residential blocks in central Dubai and led to services on a metro line being suspended, although no one was hurt.
‘We woke up to people screaming’
By 4 am the outside of the building showed no sign of fire as residents and onlookers stood around staring up at the building.
A resident, whose name was Mohammed and lives on the 12th floor, said the top part caught fire first and then lower levels followed as debris fell.
An Associated Press journalist near the scene says more than 40 floors of the high-rise tower appear to be engulfed in flames on one side of the building. Residents of the building are crying, with several saying the fire broke just after 1 am.
Dubai police cordoned off the area around the building, keeping people about a block away from the fire and the falling debris.
The Torch tower is believed to be the 7th tallest residential skyscraper in the world – it was the tallest when it first opened in 2011 – and the 32 tallest building, according to the Skyscraper Centre. It has 676 apartments
Top: Fire rips through the Torch Tower in Dubai. Photo: Nivetha Vijayathasan via The Telegraph
Inset: Flames shoot up the sides of the Torch Tower. Photo: Reuters via The Telegraph
SOURCE: The Telegraph written by Barney Henderson and Chris Graham