A fire ripped through one of the world’s tallest residential towers in Dubai on Friday, the latest in a series of fires in tall structures in the United Arab Emirates, over the past three years. Flames shot up the sides of the Torch tower in the second blaze to hit the high-rise since 2015, forcing hundreds of occupants to flee as burning debris showered down the sides of the 1,105 foot (337 metre)-tall, 79-storey structure.
The tower was evacuated, no injuries were reported, and there was no immediate word on the cause of the blaze. But the incident may revive questions about the safety of materials used on the exteriors of tall buildings across the Gulf region and beyond. An investigation by the management of the Torch after its 2015 fire found that most of the damage was to the cladding, exterior panelling used for decoration or insulation.
Dubai’s civil defence authorities said firefighting squads put out the blaze around 4am and were cooling the building. Firefighters and police sealed off surrounding streets, which were partially covered by dust and debris. By 4am the exterior of the building showed no sign of fire as residents and onlookers stood around staring up at the building, according to a Reuters witness.