Traffic on the street outside the Torch Tower in Dubai Marina was back to normal by Friday evening. Police announced that all roads which were closed in the area were reopened by evening. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Residents of the Dubai Marina skyscraper that caught fire shortly after midnight are waiting to be allowed to go back inside to get their belongings.

On Friday morning, several hours after firefighters brought the blaze at the 87-storey Torch Tower under control, residents gathered to find out more. The cause of the fire, which broke out on the 26th floor, was not known by Friday evening.

Dubai tower fire: 597 flats searched and 475 people were evacuated in record time

For some of the residents of the tower’s 676 apartments, the blaze reminded them of the first fire that broke out in the building more than two years ago.

Security guards at the tower told residents that they would likely be let back inside by the evening. Dubai Police were seen taking down residents’ contact details.

Video: Torch tower fire at Dubai Marina put out; 38 flats damaged

“The police said that we can probably go in after 6pm, but they need to confirm it,” said a French resident who lives on the 23rd floor, on the other side of the tower.

The resident had spent the night at his brother’s house.

Pictures: Aftermath of Marina Torch tower fire

Dubai authorities have provided accommodation in three nearby hotels to residents affected by the fire, according to a 3am statement by the Dubai Media Office on Twitter.

The building’s management firm, Kingfield Owner Association Management Services, also said it was providing residents with temporary places to stay.

“We are arranging accommodation for the residents right now,” a spokeswoman for the firm told Gulf News.

But some were unhappy at how the situation had been handled by the management firm.

“They didn’t do anything,” said an Egyptian resident who lives on the 44th floor — on the side hit by the blaze. “They sent an email at 4am, telling the people to go to Princess Tower [a nearby residential building]. Who will check his email [at that hour]?”

A statement from the Dubai Civil Defence to Gulf News said: “Within two hours, Dubai authorities controlled the Torch Tower fire in the early hours of Friday.

“The Dubai Civil Defence was first alerted about the fire at 12.45am.”

By 2.58am, firefighters had the fire under control.

Senior officials of the Dubai Civil Defence, Interior Ministry and Dubai Police visited the site to follow up on the operations. Dubai Civil Defence shared a photo showing them rescuing a water-soaked cat from the fire.

As firefighters battled the blaze, Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, visited the scene.

On the street by the building’s entrance, there were just a few remnants of last night’s towering inferno — shards of aluminium cladding, soot, and the smell of smoke hanging heavy. In the back, at least three dozen cars in a makeshift sandy car park were showered with debris.

Some had caught fire, while other cars had smashed windows and dented panels from falling debris.

A nearby resident, from Azerbaijan, who did not want to be identified, chose the wrong spot to park his rented car. He was seen taking photos of his white hatchback, covered in ash and metal pieces, to show the rental company.

Near the building’s entrance, workers at the tower’s downstairs grocery shop were washing away the soot from the pavement.

The shop’s manager, who hails from Armenia, looked distraught. “[Last night], the shift staff told me the building was on fire. After maybe 20 minutes, I came down, [and] the fire was already huge,” he said.

“I was very upset. At 7 o’clock, they allowed us to come back inside. We came and cleaned everything now. Everything has melted,” he added, pointing towards the tall fridges storing ice cream and chocolates.

Jawad Kamal, a Pakistani tenant who lives on the 17th floor with his wife and child, who was waiting near the tower’s cordoned-off entrance told Gulf News, “We are in panic, we have nothing. Our wallets are [in the house]. My car is also stuck,” he added.

“The police shifted us at six o’clock to an apartment. We are without food and money. I have only Dh150 in my pocket. Everything is upstairs,” he said.

In numbers

  1. 87 floors in Torch Tower
  2. 676 flats
  3. 38 flats destroyed
  4. 26th floor is where the fire started
  5. 64 floors affected
  6. 84th and 83rd floors saw minor damage

Source: Dubai Civil Defence

First fire

On February 21, 2015, a fire ripped through the Torch Tower in Dubai Marina, on the north facing side.

The fire started on the 52nd floor and spread to the floors above.

There were no deaths or serious injuries reported.

At the time, a resident of the building told Gulf News that the tower had long been plagued by problems, such as false fire alarms going off on an almost daily basis.

The tower, situated in the upscale Marina district, has long been popular with well-heeled expats. A one-bedroom apartment costs around Dh90,000 per year in rent.

Praise for leader’s supervision

Dubai Police praised the supervision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, during the firefighting operations at the Torch Tower in Dubai Marina.

and Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was present at the site soon after the fire broke out to support the teams and to help in evacuating the residents without recording any injuries.

Major-General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said the efficiency and hard work of all teams helped control the fire without casualties despite the fact that 475 residents had to be evacuated and transferred to three nearby hotels.

“Firefighters, rescue teams and Dubai Ambulance helped prevent any casualties. We searched and inspected 597 apartments and evacuated 475 people in a record time,” Maj-Gen Al Merri said.

He said the safety procedures and fire system in the tower helped control the fire in a short time.

“The crisis and disaster team played a key role in coordinating the efforts to control the fire. Safety of the people is a priority for Dubai authorities,” he added.

Dubai Police announced that the roads and interchanges in and around Marina have been reopened for traffic, which is back normal.

Teams that helped

  1. Dubai Civil Defence
  2. Dubai Police
  3. Al Barsha police station
  4. Dubai Municipality
  5. Roads and Transports authority
  6. Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services