21 Feb 2015

Fire sweeps through Dubai skyscraper

4:33 pm on 21 February 2015

A fire has swept through the Torch skyscraper in Dubai, one of the tallest residential buildings in the world.

The Marina Torch is a 79 storey skyscraper with nearly 700 apartments.

The Marina Torch is a 79 storey skyscraper with nearly 700 apartments. Photo: Citizenside / Ricky Sharma / citizenside.com

Strong winds helped the blaze to spread across the 336.1 metre high building in the marina district.

One eyewitness said "there was debris flying everywhere, falling into neighbouring buildings". Later reports said the fire was under control.

It is not known what caused the blaze. Hundreds of people were evacuated and there are no reports of any casualties.

Footage posted on social media showed what looked like molten glass and pieces of masonry falling down.

"In an hour-and-a-half the fire is almost out on about 60 floors, it looks like mostly the outer apartments that are damaged," said an eyewitness Rola.

She told the BBC it looked like the blaze started on the 50th floor.

"It's an iconic building, people were out on balconies all around it watching - even though it was 3am," she said.

"The civil defence came really quickly and they have said there were no casualties, everybody was told to evacuate in a timely manner and we think everybody is OK."

One resident of the Torch, Australian Kathryn Dickie, said the fire was frightening.

"The buildings are covered in panels that are about a metre tall each and those panels were catching fire and then coming off the building and being picked up by the wind, they were falling down to the street still aflame."

Kathryn Dickie, who was on the thirteenth floor when the flames took hold, said some of the panels fell into buildings on the other side of the road.

Another witness told Gulfnews.com that the building looked like "the Titanic going down".

Cyrille Sekretev, who lives in the nearby Princess Tower, later said that all the residents of that building had been asked to evacuate but were later allowed to return.

"I saw four floors on fire, then 20, then 60. It was very windy, so that really didn't help the situation. We were very scared that the wind would spread the fire."

The 79-storey Torch skyscraper opened in 2011.

In 2012, a fire swept through the 34-storey Tamweel Tower in Dubai.

No-one was injured, however hundreds of residents were left homeless after the blaze which police said was caused by a cigarette butt.

- BBC -