Sheesha & Cigarettes Torched Dubai’s Marina Torch

By | Feb 22, 2015 04:12 AM EST
The Torch Skyscraper Fire

A fire blazes at "The Torch", a residential high-rise tower, in Dubai February 21, 2015. Hundreds of people were evacuated from one of the world's tallest residential buildings on Saturday when fire swept through the more than 330-metre (1,082-foot) tall skyscraper "The Torch" in Dubai, residents said. Authorities had no immediate word on the cause of the fire. REUTERS/David French (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: DISASTER)(Photo : Reuters)

Residents who live in The Torch recount that the flame was travelling by floors through burning materials that fell on balconies. An official of the building said on Saturday that the fire, which hit Dubai's and one of the world's tallest residential skyscrapers, didn't just travel though balconies but was probably started as a carelessly thrown cigarette butt on a balcony.

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The unnamed official told Khaleej Times that this is not the first time that a cigarette butt was the cause of a fire, citing the blaze that burned the Tamweel Tower in JLT in 2012.

He insisted that the building is not negligent on safety regulations, citing its compliance with regular fire drills, enforcement of other building regulations and policies.

"People here just don't care about the safety of others. They don't understand the consequences of a cigarette butt flung from a balcony," the man said, citing that he just saw a 70th floor resident of Princess Tower throw a cigarette whom he wanted to slap.

Another red flag for the official is the proliferation of the sheeshas not only in Torch but also in almost all buildings in Marina with every third balcony having the smoking device.

He pointed out that a cigarette flung or a sheesha left outside, when exposed to oxygen, could flare up and burn through steel. "An 80kmph wind can wreak havoc if it takes along a piece of burning coal," he adds.

Although there were no fatalities in the fire, the Dubai Civil Defence said that seven people had minor injuries, mostly from suffocation. The fire started on the 51st floor of the building and reached up to the 86th floor of the 87-storey skyscraper - the fifth tallest in the world. The Torch has 676 units.

The fire, which started around 2 a.m. on Saturday, raged for about 2 hours and was declared under control by firefighters by 4:24 a.m.

Select Group, the developer, said all 1,000 occupants were safely evacuated and have been allowed back to the tower.

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