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Dubai skyscraper fire: Torch Tower residents wake to screams as flames engulf 79-storey building

 

Witnesses have described screaming residents fleeing Dubai’s Torch Tower after a huge fire broke out at the skyscraper, one of the tallest in the world, on Thursday night.

Hundreds of occupants were evacuated from the 79-storey residential tower, authorities say, as burning debris showered down the sides of the 1,105 foot building.

It was not yet clear what started the fire but Dubai's civil defence authorities said firefighting squads were able to extinguish the blaze around 4am local time and were cooling the building.

Firefighters and police sealed off surrounding streets, which were partially covered by the dust and debris.

George, a resident of the tower, said: “We were sleeping and we woke up to the fire alarm and people screaming. We ran down the stairs and it took us about 10 minutes to reach [the ground] from the 50th floor.

"It was very bad. The fire was very strong at that time, about 1am. Then it started calming down over the next two hours.”

No injuries have been reported, and all of the tower's residents were believed to have escaped the burning building unharmed. 

 

 

But the incident has drawn parallels with June's devastating blaze at Grenfell Tower, whose residents were less fortunate. At least 80 people died in the fire at the west London high-rise after residents became trapped in the burning building. 

The fire is the second to hit the high-rise block since 2015, when flammable cladding similar to that fitted to Grenfell Tower was blamed for fuelling the spread of the flames. 

The latest incident follows a string of fires across skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates over the past three years and is likely to revive questions over the safety of building materials fitted to high rise buildings. 

An investigation by Torch Tower's management found that most of the damage from the 2015 fire was to the cladding.

The UAE revised its building safety code in 2013 to require cladding on all new buildings over 50 feet tall be fire-resistant, but older buildings are exempt.

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