Fire Erupts in Residential Skyscraper in Dubai

A fire in the Torch Tower in Dubai early Friday. (Credit: Karim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
A fire in the Torch Tower in Dubai early Friday. (Credit: Karim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

A fire erupted early Friday morning in Dubai in one of the world’s tallest residential buildings, enveloping a side of the 86-story Torch Tower and spouting burning debris to the streets below.

The fire broke out around 1 a.m. in the 1,100-foot skyscraper in the northern end of the densely populated Marina district, and the flames stretched dozens of floors. Firefighters from four fire stations were deployed and helped all the residents evacuate, the Dubai Media Office said on Twitter. No one appeared to be injured.

The fire was brought under control around 3:30 a.m., the authorities said.

The fast-spreading blaze resembled a 2015 fire at the Torch Tower, when about 60 floors of the building became engulfed in flames. Investigators concluded that the tower’s exterior cladding, made of aluminum panels with combustible plastic cores, helped accelerate the flames.

Flammable cladding has contributed to at least three other towering infernosin recent years in Dubai, the most populated city in the United Arab Emirates. Dozens of giant apartment buildings and hotels have been erected there in the last two decades. On New Year’s Eve in 2015, a fire started by an electrical short in the Address Hotel, a 63-story tower, quickly spread to consume the entire building.

After that fire, the Dubai Civil Defense announced restrictions in 2016 on using exterior paneling on new construction, including forbidding it on towers taller than nine floors. But the new rules did not immediately apply to older buildings. About 70 percent of the high-rise buildings in the United Arab Emirates were constructed with the flammable panels, The National reported in 2012.

Flammable paneling played a major role in a fatal inferno in June at the Grenfell Tower in London, which killed at least 80 people. The United States has stricter restrictions on the use of this type of paneling.

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