UK
21/02/2015 04:47 GMT | Updated 23/02/2015 04:59 GMT

Dubai's 86-Storey Torch Skyscraper, World's Tallest Residential Towers, Catches Fire

One of the world's tallest residential towers caught fire early Saturday in Dubai's Marina district, sending bright yellow flames several stories high and residents, including Britons, out onto the streets, but there were no reports of casualties.

The fire broke out at about 2 am in the 86-story Torch tower on the northeast end of the densely populated district, which is packed with multi-story skyscrapers.

High winds whipped through the area and debris from the fire cluttered nearby streets after the blaze appeared to be extinguished.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. The Marina area is home to dozens of towering apartment blocks and hotels, many of them built over the past decade. The apartments are popular with Dubai's large number of expatriate professionals.

The Torch is managed by Kingfield Owner Association Management Services, which is arranging temporary shelter and supplies for affected residents. It said in a statement that everyone inside the tower was successfully evacuated.

"All fire safety systems functioned effectively during the incident thereby restricting fire damage to the exterior of the building," it said.

Dubai tower fire

Police blocked off areas around the Torch, which still had power. Lights were on in many of the apartments inside and multiple fire trucks and police vehicles were on the scene.

Residents of at least one neighbouring tower were told to evacuate as a precaution because of strong winds, but they were later allowed back inside.

Two residents of the Torch said they were told the fire started around the 52nd floor. Flaming material falling from the initial fire then set a lower part of the building ablaze, they said.

One of the British residents, Steve Short, 53, from Liverpool, praised the work of firefighters who arrived quickly. He said fire alarms alerted residents to the blaze and building management sent workers knocking on doors to ensure residents got out.

Resident R.J. Morlock, 33, of Houston, shot video on his phone that showed bright yellow flames reaching what appeared to be several stories on two separate parts of the building. He said residents were nervous coming out but fire crews were able to bring the situation under control.

"I was really surprised they got it under control pretty quickly," he said. "It looked like it was going to go up."

As daylight broke, residents waiting across the street to be allowed back home were able to see the extent of the blaze: External cladding on the corner of more than two dozen stories from roughly the 50th floor to the top were mangled and charred black.

Cleanup crews dressed in orange uniforms swept up pieces of shattered glass and other debris covering the street outside the building.

The Torch opened in 2011 and is one of the world's tallest residential towers, according to developer Select Group.

In a separate incident, police in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi say 10 people were killed and eight others were wounded in a fire that tore through an industrial area where labourers were sleeping.

Abu Dhabi police said they were notified of the fire early Friday morning in the al-Mussafah industrial area. Firefighters from several stations were dispatched.

They say fire broke out in car repair shops located in a commercial building before spreading to a second-story warehouse that had been illegally rented out as accommodation to the workers.

Police did not identify the victims, but said they comprised different nationalities. Much of the manual labor in the Emirates is done by South Asians.

An investigation is underway. Police have arrested the building owner and are in the process of detaining others.