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Published On: Sat, Feb 21st, 2015

Hundreds evacuated after fire in Dubai skyscraper

Residents of nearby buildings also told to leave as precautionary measure after blaze breaks out in the Torch in the city’s Marina district

Hundreds of people in Dubai were evacuated from one of the world’s tallest residential buildings on Saturday when a blaze swept through the Torch, a 79-storey skyscraper.

A witness said flames shot out from two sides of the building as glass and metal rained down from close to the top of the 330m (1,082 ft) structure.

Dubai’s police chief, General Khamis Mattar, said the fire appeared to have been caused by an accident rather than a criminal act.

An investigation has been opened to determine the exact cause of the blaze, which left four people with minor injuries.

Dozens of firefighters were able to extinguish the fire several hours after the alarm was raised about 2am local time.

However, some residents said they had been told by staff that the building’s fire alarms did not immediately sound and that reception staff at the Torch were alerted to the fire by people in an adjacent building.

“[The Torch receptionists] got a call from Princess Tower telling them the building was on fire. The alarms were not operating automatically,” said Archibald Jurdi, a resident of the 76th floor.

The building manager could not be reached to comment about claims that the fire alarm system had not worked.

Residents said the fire had been fanned by high winds, dislodging chunks of metal and raining glass down on the area below the building.

Traffic in the area was diverted and residents of two other nearby buildings in the emirate’s Marina district, home to thousands of expatriates, were also evacuated.

Many of those standing outside the building were dressed in pyjamas, with others in more formal attire as they returned home from an evening out.

One woman stood on the street crying, saying she had rushed back fearing for her belongings after a friend contacted her about the fire. Her fear turned to relief when she saw the lower floors, where she lived, were not affected.

Residents of neighbouring towers were returning to their homes about 430am local time, but residents of The Torch were told they would not be allowed back into the building until the fire officials had checked the building later on Saturday.

Residents of upper floors that were most affected were told it would be days before they could return.

There were no immediate details of casualties, or of the cause of the fire.

About the Author

- I am currently based in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

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