Dubai: Initial Dubai Police reports into the cause of last month’s Tamweel Tower fire say the blaze was started by a discarded cigarette butt.
The forensic laboratory report, released on Tuesday, gives details on how the cigarette end was thrown on a pile of waste materials, igniting the fire that engulfed the residential building.
Hundreds of people were left homeless when the 34 storey building, in Jumeirah Lake Towers, went up in flames in the early hours of the morning on November 18.
A quick response from civil defence teams ensured no-one was injured in the blaze but the building is still not fit for habitation, and residents will not be able to move back into the tower for at least another eight months.
In a statement on Tuesday, Dubai Police said: “We are investigating if the fire is a criminal action or just an accident.”
The police report stated that the fire started at the back of the building on the ground floor.
“A pile of waste materials that include a piece of wood and papers left in the building caught fire and the flames extended quickly to other floors in the building.
“We are still investigating how and why and who caused the fire,” police said.
Police said the waste materials were left by workers constructing a shop in the building itself.
They said the fire spread quickly to reach the roof from where blazing pieces fell down onto the street, burning cars below.
Last night many residents said they were surprised to hear the results of the Dubai Police investigation.
“I can’t believe that it started in the bottom floor. We believe it call came from the top. The fire on the ground came from the top part of the building from the [flaming debris],” Jim Bishop, 12th floor resident, told Gulf News.
“If this is then the case, then they should find who was down there [at the time of the fire] and they have to find the guy that caused the fire because it nearly killed 500 people that night. They should be sued. You can’t just brush this under the mat,” he added.
“I find the cigarette butt theory quite surprising. It to me is just an unlikely occurrence because a cigarette butt causing fire is a slow process so it’s a bit surprising. But at this time, whether it’s caused by a cigarette butt or an electric fault, the more important issue is the spread of the fire and the inability to control it because of the cladding,” said Bassem Fakhry, a Tamweel Tower resident.
“The second important issue is the consequences — the victims displaced by the fire. Until now we don’t know what the outcome of the insurance investigation will be. We just want some clarity on what direction we’ll take next, and transparency, transparency,” Fakhry added.
Last month, Gulf News told how changes will be made to the Fire Safety Code in the country, ensuring that any new buildings will be constructed with fireproof cladding materials.
A Tamweel spokesperson said on Tuesday: “Tamweel is yet to receive the official report from Dubai Civil Defence into the cause of the recent fire at Tamweel Tower, and so is unable to comment at this time. Our priority remains the wellbeing of owners and residents and we continue to strongly support the relief efforts of the Building’s Owners Association during this difficult period.”