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Dubai skyscraper fire: Torch Tower residents wake to screams as flames engulf 79-storey building

20:46 EDT 3 Aug 2017 | Yahoo News

Dubai skyscraper fire: Torch Tower residents wake to screams as flames engulf 79-storey buildingHuge fire breaks out in Torch tower No injuries reported The building is popular with expatriates Fire brought under control A fire ripped through one of the world's tallest residential towers in Dubai on Thursday night, sending panicked residents fleeing from the building. Debris could be seen spiralling to the ground across the famous Marina district of the city as the fire consumed multiple floors of the Torch Tower after midnight. Fire rips through the Torch Tower in Dubai Credit: Nivetha Vijayathasan Authorities quickly evacuated the residents and no injuries were reported. "We were sleeping and we woke up to the fire alarm and people screaming. We ran down the stairs and it took us about 10 minutes to reach from the 50th floor. "The fire was very strong at that time, about 1 a.m. Then it started calming down over the next two hours. It started on the 67th floor, that's what we were told." Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai Credit: Reuters Dubai Civil Defence said the fire had been brought under control and cooling operations were underway.  The incident may revive questions about the safety of materials used on the exteriors of tall buildings across the wealthy Gulf region and beyond. The 1,100ft, 79-storey skyscraper, which is known to be popular with expatriate residents of the UAE city, was devastated by a fire in February 2015. There were no deaths in that fire. The external cladding on the building was blamed for the rapid spread of the 2015 fire, leading to the decision to fully renovate the exterior cladding - works which began last summer and were believed to be ongoing. Flames have spread across many floors of the Dubai skyscraper In June, a fire at Grenfell tower in west London led to at least 80 deaths.  The growth of the fire was made worse by the tower's exterior cladding, which was similar to the materials used at Dubai's Torch tower. Cara Spillane tweeted: “Terrifying to see Torch Tower, in the area I live in (Dubai Marina) on fire now. “Hope everyone gets out OK.” Flames shoot up the sides of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai Credit: Reuters Reports on social media suggested the fire reached the roof rapidly, with an entire side of the building engulfed in flames. A witness told Gulf News: "Smoke is everywhere. The streets are covered in debris." Authorities later shared a photo of the charred and blackened tower but it was no longer visibly in flames. Officials said they were now working on providing shelter for those affected. Dubai Civil Defence announces that the fire at the Torch Tower has been brought under control. Cooling operations are underway pic.twitter.com/4k2NeVXYBK— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) August 3, 2017 The UAE revised its building safety code in 2013 to require cladding on all new buildings over 15 metres (50 feet) tall be fire-resistant, but older buildings are exempt. Most of Dubai's approximately 250 high-rise buildings use cladding panels with thermoplastic cores, UAE media have reported. Panels can consist of plastic or polyurethane fillings sandwiched between aluminium sheets. Such cladding is not necessarily hazardous, but it can be flammable under certain circumstances and, depending on a skyscraper's design, may channel fires through windows into the interiors of buildings. The fire can be seen amidst the Dubai skyline Credit: Getty In January Dubai announced tougher rules to minimise fire risks after a series of tower blazes in the modern emirate mostly due to flammable material used in cladding, a covering or coating used on the side of the buildings. On New Year's Eve 2015 a fire broke out in a luxury hotel, injuring 16 people hours before a fireworks display nearby. In November 2015, fire engulfed three residential blocks in central Dubai and led to services on a metro line being suspended, although no one was hurt. 3:32AM 'We woke up to people screaming' By 4am the outside of the building showed no sign of fire as residents and onlookers stood around staring up at the building. A resident who gave his name as George told Reuters: "We were sleeping and we woke up to the fire alarm and people screaming. We ran down the stairs and it took us about 10 minutes to reach from the 50th floor. "The fire was very strong at that time, about 1 a.m. Then it started calming down over the next two hours. It started on the 67th floor, that's what we were told." Another resident, whose name was Mohammed and lives on the 12th floor, said the top part caught fire first and then lower levels followed as debris fell. Bystanders look on as fire is seen at the 1,105 foot tall Torch tower skyscraper Credit: AFP 1:13AM View of the fire across the city The fire can be seen in the Dubai skyline Credit: Getty 12:48AM 'Cooling operations begin' Dubai Civil Defence says the fire has been brought under control and cooling operations have begun. No injuries have been reported. Dubai Civil Defence:Fire at the Torch Tower has been brought under control. Cooling operations are underway. No inures have been reported. pic.twitter.com/4hHMnaRJ7T— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) August 3, 2017 12:40AM Fire 'largely under control' The Dubai Civil Defence says the fire has been "brought largely under control" and that no casualties have been reported so far. Dubai Civil Defence: Torch Tower fire brought largely under control. No casualties have been reported so far pic.twitter.com/ETJN3kPu2a— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) August 3, 2017 12:25AM Flames 'engulf 40 floors' An Associated Press journalist near the scene says more than 40 floors of the high-rise tower appear to be engulfed in flames on one side of the building. Residents of the building are crying, with several saying the fire broke just after 1 a.m. Dubai police cordoned off the area around the building, keeping people about a block away from the fire and the falling debris. 12:18AM 'We're out but people are in tears' Terrifying to see Torch Tower, in the area I live in (Dubai Marina) on fire now. I am on holidays in Ireland atm. Hope everyone gets out ok.— Cara Spillane (@CaraSpillane) August 3, 2017 @SkyNews torch tower Dubai tonight 3rd Aug 2017 pic.twitter.com/QBMukzyHnV— rob shepherd (@robshepherd70) August 3, 2017 We're out but people are in tears... cars are exploding all around now... being moved further away— rob shepherd (@robshepherd70) August 3, 2017 Cars exploding catching fire pic.twitter.com/AtC2PXrdUN— rob shepherd (@robshepherd70) August 3, 2017 12:12AM One of the tallest in the world The Torch tower is believed to be the 7th tallest residential skyscraper in the world - it was the tallest when it first opened in 2011 - and the 32 tallest building, according to the Skyscraper Centre.  It has 676 apartments  11:50PM Location of the tower 11:43PM No injuries reported so far Dubai Media Office is reporting that there are no known injuries so far.  It said Dubai Civil Defence has evacuated the tower and is tackling the blaze.  Dubai Police Commander in Chief & Dubai Civil Defence Director General on site following measures to control the fire at the Torch Tower pic.twitter.com/3hY3tqJfq9— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) August 3, 2017 11:37PM Second fire in building in recent years The Torch tower was also hit with a fire in 2015, the Gulf News reports.  Woke up to the crazy sirens in the neighborhood - yet another fire at the Torch tower in Marina. Hope everyone is safe. #dubaipic.twitter.com/UgRXcmZfea— Dina K (@dinakfouri) August 3, 2017 11:25PM Fire 'started on 30th floor' A witness said the fire started on the 30th floor and has now reached the roof. The Torch building is 79 storeys high. The #Torch building in #Dubai is on #fire. It started on the 30th floor & has now reached the roof of the 79 story residential building. pic.twitter.com/m5gDm8deWL— Aaron G. Sheasley (@aaronsheasley) August 3, 2017   11:21PM 'Smoke is everywhere. The streets are covered in debris' A witness told Gulf News: "Smoke is everywhere. The streets are covered in debris." #Dubai torch tower is currently burning in Dubai Marina @gulf_news �� pic.twitter.com/HvxxnOXSuk— PepGenesio (@Mamad_ElShabazz) August 3, 2017   11:16PM Footage shows skyscraper engulfed in flames DEVELOPING: High-rise on fire in Dubai Marina district; firefighters deployed to the area, Dubai Media Office says. https://t.co/O0pXTKDQ3ypic.twitter.com/36U0lcMzHo— ABC News (@ABC) August 3, 2017  


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