Dubai skyscraper fire: Blaze rips through Torch residential tower block in city's marina district

Terrified residents were forced to flee after a fire ripped through Dubai’s Marina Torch building

Henry Austin,Rob Williams
Saturday 21 February 2015 00:56 GMT
Onlookers watch as flames engulf the Torch in Dubai
Onlookers watch as flames engulf the Torch in Dubai

A fire has ripped through the Torch in Dubai - one of the tallest residential buildings in the world.

The skyscraper, which is 336.1m (1,105ft) tall, is in the marina district of the city. The fire is believed to have started on the 52nd floor at around 2am and spread quickly, in part due to high-winds.

It has now been brought under control.

One witness said it looked like "the Titanic going down", reported.

Terrified residents were forced to flee and emergency crews rushed to the scene to tackle the blaze which burned across several floors of the enormous structure.

There were no reported injuries, officials told NBC News.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the tower and dozens suffered smoke inhalation injuries, according to Gulf News.

One resident told the paper that the alarm had stirred many people from their sleep after it went off at 2.05am.

"There have been three fire alarms every week recently and all were false," they said. "This time I heard it and said it must be false. But then I smelt smoke. I took my wallet and ran down along with my wife. We live on the 59th floor. "

Eyewitnesses told local media that the fire is believed to have started near the 50th floor of the building which opened four years ago.

Courtesy of @RaMiAlGaDi

Social media footage taken by eyewitnesses at the scene showed what looked like molten glass and pieces of masonry falling down.

"I saw the fire falling from the window," Mehdi Ansari, who lives on the 27th floor of the building with his wife and baby, told NBC News, adding that the fire appeared to cover 10 or 15 floors.

He added that the escape from the burning tower had been orderly.

"The firefighters did well. They were pretty quick, they organized people, got them out, gave them water and found others," he said.

On social media, eyewitnesses said at least 10 fire engines had attended the scene, along with police and ambulances.

Traffic in the area was diverted and residents of two other nearby buildings in the emirate's Marina district, home to thousands of expatriate professionals, were also evacuated, witnesses said.

Many of those standing outside the building were dressed in pyjamas, with others in evening dress as they returned from the city's many bars and restaurants on a weekend.

One woman, who did not give her name, 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 around 0430 local time, but residents of The Torch were told they would not be allowed back into the building until the fire officials gave approval later on Saturday. Residents of upper floors that were most affected were told it would be days before they could return.

Dubai civil defense officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and the cause of the fire remained unclear.

Additional reporting by AP

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