Fire extinguished at 86-storey residential high-rise in Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Police in Dubai have 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. A few people were treated for smoke inhalation, according to Dubai’s Gulf News website.
WATCH ABOVE: Fire breaks out at 86-storey at one of world’s tallest buildings
Several building residents said the fire broke out just after 1 a.m. at the 86-storey Torch Tower residential building, which had also caught fire just two-and-a-half years earlier.
More than 40 floors of the building on one side were engulfed in flames as residents looked on from below, many in tears. The firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours.
Dubai’s Civil Defence announced at about 3:30 a.m. that firefighters had brought the blaze under control and said cooling operations were underway.
By mid-day Friday, a few police cars could be seen in the area, but the streets had been wiped clean of falling debris from the fire, some of which had fallen on cars parked below.
The building remained closed to residents, some of whom were transferred to a nearby and even taller residential tower while others took refuge with friends.
The more than 1,100-foot-tall (335 metres) tower, located in the popular waterfront Marina district, also caught fire in February 2015; there were also no casualties reported in that blaze. Parts of the building were still undergoing restoration work when the second fire broke out overnight Friday.
In both incidents, it appears fire alarms alerted residents and building staff knocked on doors to ensure a quick evacuation.
Authorities shared a photo of the charred and blackened tower after the fire was put out. Officials said they were now working on providing shelter for those affected.
Several skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates have caught fire in recent years, including a towering inferno that engulfed a 63-storey luxury hotel in Dubai on New Year’s Eve in 2016. In that blaze, as in others in Dubai in recent years, residents escaped without major injury.
Earlier this year, Dubai passed new fire safety rules requiring buildings with quick-burning side paneling to replace it with more fire-resistant siding. Authorities have previously acknowledged that at least 30,000 buildings across the UAE have cladding or paneling that safety experts have said accelerates the rapid spread of fires.
A devastating tower fire in London in June killed at least 80 people and prompted Britain to order more thorough testing on the cladding systems of its towers.
© 2017 The Canadian Press