Major General Rashid Thani Al Matroushi addressing the day-long seminar on fire prevention for first responders held in Dubai. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Police investigations reveal that the cause of the fire at the Torch Tower in Dubai Marina on August 4 this year could have been due to cigarette butts being thrown into a potted plant which began to smoulder until it caught fire.

Police carried out similar experiments to gauge whether throwing a cigarette butt in a pot could lead to a fire and found that it slowly did.

Flames shoot up the sides of the Torch tower.

The Torch Tower fire raced across the structural facade forcing 475 people to flee to safety from the 87-storey.

Firefighters doused the second blaze at the tower in as many years in record time without any injuries or causalities.

Speaking on the sidelines of a day-long seminar on fire prevention in Dubai for first responders, Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police said the risk to human lives, financial losses and property damages could have been minimised during the fire if security staff were more well versed in safety procedures.

“These men should be qualified and equipped with enough skills to deal with any tragedy. They need to begin the evacuation process immediately and know how to manage evacuating people with special needs and the injured,” said the Dubai Police chief.

“The security guards are responsible for the safety of residential buildings. The last Torch Tower fire saw financial losses, especially to cars that were badly damaged because they were wrongly parked,” said Maj Gen Al Merri.

Dubai Civil Defence officials attending the seminar revealed that electrical faults and cigarette butts are the leading causes of fires in Dubai since 2015.

Major General Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, Director-General of Dubai Civil Defence, said 15 people died during the same period and a total of 179 people, including firefighters, were injured. “Most of the injuries during the last three years from fires were due to smoke inhalation,” he said, noting that of the 66 civilians injured in 2017, 50 were treated for minor smoke inhalation.

According to a latest report by firefighters released at the seminar, only four people died in fires during 2017.

“Three people died in a villa fire and one person died in a hotel fire,” said Maj Gen Al Matroushi.

The geographical areas with the highest number of accidents were Karama, Al Quoz industrial and Al Satwa, according to the report.

“Most of the fires happen during the summer months. This year, June saw the highest number of fires compared with the other months of the year. Eight of them were big fires while 215 fires were minor and nine were fires of moderate intensities,” said Maj Gen Al Matroushi.

The report illustrated that fires frequently occur around 3pm and the origins often vary depending on the building design and components within.

The sources of fire in high-rise buildings were often in sauna rooms, waste rooms and electrical rooms. In construction sites, the sources of fire were found in generators and caravans. In villas, fires were sparked in kitchens and bedrooms.

Colonel Rashid Khalifa Bu Flasa, Director of Fire and Rescue Department, told Gulf News that community awareness is critical to reducing the prevalence of fires.

“After investigations, we find that mostly wrong practices, lack of knowledge, and certain habits within the community are the cause of fires. This is the reason why we always carry out awareness campaigns.”