Dubai hotel fire: Remarkable escape as British man carries mother from Dubai inferno

'It was pretty much people shoving each other down the stairs and climbing over each other'

Alexandra Sims
Friday 01 January 2016 08:38
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Dubai New Year's Eve Fire

A British man has described how he was forced to carry his mother from a burning Dubai hotel amid scenes of "absolute pandemonium".

Angua Villar was alerted to the fire, which broke out at around 9:30pm on Thursday at the Address Downtown hotel, by his father who saw flames on a balcony while the family were having champagne on the 15th floor.

Mr Villar told Sky News: "I went out on the balcony and saw that the room next door to us was completely on fire.

"We got to the fire escape before the fire alarm had gone off at which point there were already people running into the corridors and panicking.

"It was basically absolute pandemonium.

"You'd expect people to let women and children go first, but it was pretty much people shoving each other down the stairs and climbing over each other."

Mr Villar said he carried his mother, who uses a wheel chair, down the stairs of the hotel by strapping her to his back.

He raised concerns that the fire alarm did not go off until the building was “properly on fire”.

The fire began as an estimated million people prepared to ring in the New Year at the city's famed fireworks display, which went ahead as planned at midnight even as the tower continued to burn.

Astonishingly it appears no one has been killed in the blaze. According to the Dubai Media Office, at least 14 people were slightly injured and one person suffered a heart attack, however a medic at the scene said more than 60 people were treated for mild smoke inhalation and problems caused by crowding as they left the site.

Fire fighters on Friday appeared to have mostly extinguished the blaze, however plumes of white smoke still rose from the charred hotel at daybreak.

Dubai’s media office said over Twitter civil defence squads were continuing the “cooling down process” and that “the rising smoke is part of this process”.

The cause of the fire still remains unclear, however security officials said the conflagration began on the outside of the structure at the 20th floor. The deputy chief of police said an investigation is underway.

Dhahi Khalfan posted a picture of what appears to be a ball of fire at the base of the hotel on his official Twitter account on Friday.

“A forensic photographer from the Dubai police with the lens of his camera, from here investigation begins,” he said.

The Address hotel is the sixth-tallest building in the city, with 63 floors at 991 feet tall. It has nearly 200 rooms and over 600 apartments.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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