Huge blaze guts 79-floor Dubai skyscraper

2015-02-21 16:41
A security official stands in front of the 336-metre-high Torch skyscraper in Dubai after a huge fire engulfed the residential tower, triggering an evacuation of nearby towers in the Dubai Marina neighbourhood. (Karim Sahib, AFP)

A security official stands in front of the 336-metre-high Torch skyscraper in Dubai after a huge fire engulfed the residential tower, triggering an evacuation of nearby towers in the Dubai Marina neighbourhood. (Karim Sahib, AFP)

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Dubai - Hundreds of panicked residents fled one of the tallest towers in Dubai early on Saturday as a huge fire engulfed the skyscraper, causing extensive damage to its luxury flats.

The inferno gutted the upper part of the 79-storey Torch tower, triggering an evacuation of nearby blocks in the Dubai Marina neighbourhood, an AFP correspondent reported.

Amateur footage posted online showed fire engulfing the upper floors of the tower - home to hundreds of expatriates - with debris falling onto the road as strong winds fanned the flames.

'It was full of smoke'

Resident Mehdi Ansari told AFP that the fire alarm sounded at around 02:00 (22:00 GMT).

"I saw there was fire and pieces of the building falling down so I immediately took my wife and our baby. We took some important items and went down," he said.

"When we went to the staircase, it was full of smoke. Later the staircase got busier and smokier, the lights went off and some people panicked."

Civil defence teams cleared the building, which at 336 metres is one of the world's tallest residential towers.

Dubai police said there were no fatalities but seven people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

A civil defence department statement said the fire began on the 51st floor and swept across the tower's facade affecting 20 storeys.

Major General Rashid Thani al-Matroushi, director of Dubai civil defence, said firefighters were able to stop the fire spreading to nearby buildings.

Emergency teams used "strict protocols to break in quickly and reach the source of the fire," he was quoted as saying by Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National.

Firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours, before hundreds of residents of nearby towers were allowed to return to their apartments.

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