Wealthy residents of Dubai’s Torch Tower have revealed how they fled from the burning 1,100ft building in just ten minutes thanks to its smoke free escape routes – in stark contrast to victims of London’s Grenfell Tower disaster.
Fire ‘spread rapidly’ through one of the world’s tallest residential towers sparking panic among terrified residents – including dozens of Britons – after a day when temperatures in the city climbed to 45C (113F).
Alarming footage showed flames climbing up the outside of the 86-storey skyscraper, a building popular with expats in the United Arab Emirates tourism hotspot.
Burning debris could be seen crashing down to the ground below as tearful residents fled and firefighters desperately tackled the blaze.
The same skyscraper was devastated by fire in 2015 and the building’s flammable cladding, which was similar to that used in Grenfell Tower, was blamed for fuelling the flames. Unlike the inferno in West London in June, in which at least 80 died, residents of the Torch were able to escape unharmed.
Horrified residents this morning described how they woke to screaming and fire alarms after a blaze broke out on the 63rd floor. It is understood to have spread across 40-storeys of the 676-flat building, where apartments start at £381,000. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Parts of the building were still undergoing restoration work following the 2015 blaze when the second fire broke out overnight. In both incidents, it appears fire alarms alerted residents and building staff knocked on doors to ensure a quick evacuation.
Dubai residents and tourists sharedphotos and videos of the flaming debris falling from the building.
‘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 from the 50th floor,’ a resident who gave his name as George told Reuters.
‘It was very bad. The fire was very strong at that time, about 1 am. Then it started calming down over the next two hours,’ he added.
One Scottish couple were left devastated after being forced to flee their burning home for the second time in two years.
Leeanne Hume, 38, and her husband Donnie, 40, fled the Torch tower in their pyjamas when the building caught fire two years ago.
The couple from Wishaw had to escape for a second time in the early hours after fire ripped through the tower once again.
Heartbroken Mrs Hume said: ‘This is horrific. We are safe but our building is horrendous, worse than last time.’
The pair were woken by alarms and security personnel and fled to a friend’s home for refuge because they couldn’t bear to see the building they have lived in for four years destroyed a second time.
Mrs Hume, who does not yet know the extent of the damage in their 15th floor apartment, said: ‘I am scared to look at news or go back. As selfish as it sounds, I just pray our stuff is safe.’
Watford-born Danny Harper, a bar manager who lives on the 68th floor, said his flat had been destroyed in the fire, along with his possessions and his passport.
He was spending the morning trying to find out how to replace his documents and said: ‘Thankfully I work nights and I am safe. My flat, however, is not and my passport is gone.’
Cambridge University graduate Effy Chengyu Wang, a management consultant from China, said she had grabbed her passport and wallet as she ran for her life but said: ‘I am alive but I lost everything.’
The fire broke out on the southwest corner of the building, on the opposite corner to the previous fire.
Today there was still hoarding covering the damage from the 2015 blaze while an acrid smell of burning filled the air and bits of charred debris were still falling onto surrounding land.
Dozens of police officers and civil defence officers surrounded the building, preventing onlookers from taking pictures. There were no reported casualties, according to Wam, the official government news agency.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said fire alarms first went off just before 1am. He said residents had filed out via the stairs in an ‘orderly’ fashion.
The fire was put out within three hours and an evacuation centre set up nearby.
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