Residents were evacuated as more than 50 firefighters fought the blaze
Dubai: A skyscraper went up in flames in Dubai Marina on Wednesday afternoon, but no injuries were reported.
The fire broke out at around 2.30pm in the 75-storey Sulafa Tower, located opposite Oceana Towers and Westin Hotel.
Major General Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, director-general of Dubai Civil Defence, said in a statement that the fire was brought under control within two hours and there were no casualties reported. All residents were evacuated to ensure their safety and the Civil Defence teams were conducting a complete survey of the tower on Wednesday night.
At least a dozen fire engines and more than 50 firefighters from five firefighting centres — Al Marsa, Al Barsha, Al Quoz, Al Rashidiya, and Al Satwa — participated in dousing the fire.
Air in parts of the building was still thick with ash in the early hours of Thursday morning. Some residents were allowed back in late on Wednesday night, and hundreds had gathered outside at around 1am on Thursday.
Earlier Wednesday, cladding and other debris could be seen flying all over the neighbourhood as strong winds made the job difficult for the firefighters.
It seemed that the fire was playing hide and seek with the firemen, as flames would erupt from one floor even as they were doused on another.
Since the building was surrounded by two construction sites with the ground excavated, firemen were forced to battle the blaze from inside the building, despite huge risks to their lives.
The police cordoned off the surrounding area as a precautionary measure and no traffic was allowed on the roads leading to the residential tower.
Earlier, Maj Gen Al Matroushi praised the efforts made by the Civil Defence teams.
A resident of the 24th floor, who didn’t wish to be named, said she was not at home when the fire broke out. She told Gulf News that her apartment has been affected but was not sure of the extent of the damage.
Another resident, Majid, who was in his 27th floor apartment when the fire broke out, said that initially many residents didn’t move when the alarm went off as there too many fire drills.
“When the alarm sounded for a longer time than usual, we realised there was something wrong. When we looked out, we saw smoke and rushed down the stairs,” said Majid, who has been living in Sulafa Tower for a year now.
An Egyptian resident, who was away at work when the fire broke said, said he was alerted by his neighbour.
“I got a call from my neighbour and I rushed. I have got valuable stuff inside and I hope my apartment isn’t affected. I hope we will be allowed to at least grab our stuff once [the building] cools off,” he said.
An Iranian resident pointed out that the building’s cladding did more damage than the actual fire.
“The municipality should do something about these inflammable claddings. I think the fire was brought under control within the first hour but then pieces of debris flew and landed on the other side of the building and the cladding caught fire, which kept moving down,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.
The blaze was put out at 5.20pm.
“As of the moment, we are trying to look for alternative accommodation for the victims of the fire,” an official from the building’s management told Gulf News at 6.30pm on Wednesday. The official said they have yet to receive information from their ground personnel on the final arrangements for the tenants and how many are affected.
A Dubai Civil Defence spokesperson told Gulf News that residents will be able to return to the building only after firefighters inspect the building and confirm it is safe. He said this operation is not easy and takes some time. “This operation can take hours, depending on the extent of the damage,” he said.
He also said that they still cannot confirm how many flats have been affected by the fire. “This can only be determined after the tower is inspected. Some flats might be affected by fire, smoke, or water. This is to be determined later.”
HOW TO AVOID FIRES
1) Properly extinguish and discard anything that could start a fire such as cigarette butts or charcoal grills. A number of tower fires in Dubai started because of discarded cigarette butts that landed on balconies where light materials were stored.
2) Keep your balconies free from any flammable stuff such as boxes, newspapers, or any light materials that could easily catch fire.
3) Make sure to unplug heat sources such as flat irons and put out candles after use.
4) Do not overload electrical sockets especially with power-intensive appliances.
5) If you’re cooking something, never leave it unattended.
Timeline – Fires in Dubai Marina
A fire breaks out at the Diamond 4 Tower in Dubai Marina. There are no reports of casualties.
A fire erupts in the 86-storey The Torch tower at Dubai Marina. The fire starts on the 52nd floor and spreads to the floors above. The 352-metre Torch was the world’s tallest residential building when it opened in 2011. There are no serious injuries or casualties reported.
Four workers die and 37 are injured when a fire breaks out in a high-rise building along Shaikh Zayed Road, opposite Dubai Marina.
(With inputs from Janice Ponce De Leon, Staff Reporter)