Torch developer thanks authorities for fast action

Select Group says residents were allowed to return home "within hours"

The Torch Tower in Dubai Marina in the aftermath of the fire (Photo: Warren Little / Getty Images)
The Torch Tower in Dubai Marina in the aftermath of the fire (Photo: Warren Little / Getty Images)

The developer of The Torch in Dubai Marina, where a fire broke out in the early hours of Saturday, expressed its thanks to all parties for bringing the situation swiftly under control, allowing residents to return to their homes within hours of the fire starting.

Select Group commended Dubai Authorities and Kingfield Owners' Association for their swift response in helping to bring a fire which swept up the 86-storey, 352m-tall Torch Tower on Friday night under control swiftly. It said that more than 1,000 people were safely evacuated from the building in the middle of a sandstorm. The highest occupied floor sits at 303m above ground level.

Although the strong winds from the storm fanned the fire, Select Group said the building’s fire safety systems and evacuation protocols worked as planned and the fire was brought under control quickly.

The developer also said its own representatives have been on site since news of the incident broke to assist both the authorities and the owners' assocation, which has set up its own support centre on the 97th floor of the adjacent Princess Tower.

The Torch Tower was completed and handed over in 2011. According to the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the Select Group owns the building, and the architectural, structural and MEP engineering work was completed by the National Engineering Bureau, as was the site supervisionwork. The main contractor was Dubai Civil Engineering.

It is the fourth tallest residential tower in Dubai, and eighth tallest residential tower in the world. Those figures don't include mixed use towers.

Dubai's police chief, General Khamis Mattar, said the cause of the fire was under investigation but did not suspect it was caused by any deliberate criminal act. Seven people were treated for smoke inhalation following the fire.

Engineers focused on the exteriors of the building saying the blaze was reminiscent of the one which took hold in Tamweel Tower in December 2012.

A witness said flames shot out from two sides of the building as glass and metal rained down from near the summit of the structure. Around 20 fire trucks were sent to the scene. Residents said the fire had been fanned by high winds, dislodging chunks of metal and glass onto the area below, including a road more than 100 metres away.

The fire broke out on the 50th floor and one resident said they manually turned on the fire alarm.

After the evacuation many of those standing outside the building were dressed in nightware with others in evening dress as they returned from bars and restaurants.

Ahmed Al Atawi, a 36 year-old Egyptian tenant living with his wife and 11-month-old baby, said that they were woken by security guards and told to leave.

"We usually have all these false alarms so when I heard this one I thought I'll just carry on sleeping it's probably nothing," he said.

"They knocked on our doors several times after the alarms started ringing, so we got dressed to leave."

"I couldn't think of anything else other than my wife and child so I grabbed our passports, I even left my phone upstairs and we headed to the exit."

One female resident told online news services she had to walk down the stairs from her high-rise apartment to the lobby to escape the fire,

She said: "The lifts weren't working so we had to walk down 72 flights of stairs with everyone, that took about 10 minutes as there were people carrying their children and babies and people who just weren't fit enough to get down the stairs.

"We got to the lobby and there were the firefighters but we couldn't exit at first because there were bits of the outside building falling to the floor at the door which were still on fire.

"Then they ran us out in little groups to across the street. And when we got outside we noticed that one of the corners was on fire and was spreading up the building."

The Torch tower, which has 676 apartments, is the 32nd tallest building in the world. It is also the 12th tallest in the Middle East, 10th tallest bulding in the UAE and the ninth tallest in Dubai.

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