Skyscraper fire in Dubai smolders into 2016

January 2, 2016 8:20 am

A towering inferno that engulfed a 63-story luxury hotel in on
New Year’s Eve still smoldered through the first day of 2016 as
firefighters worked to douse its embers on Friday.
Authorities
said they were still working to determine the cause of the fire that
erupted before the city’s fireworks extravaganza and raced through the
Address Downtown, one of the most upscale hotels and residences in
Dubai. It came after a series of fires striking the towers that provide
this megacity its futuristic skyline.
Dubai officials said only
14 people suffered minor injuries in evacuating the building late
Thursday night, but the fire raised new questions about building safety
for those living in the .
The Address would
have a prime spot for viewing the midnight fireworks display, centered
at the nearby Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The Address
boasts a luxury hotel with nearly 200 rooms, along with more than 600
residential units. Rentals of a one-bedroom can run $70,000 a year.

The fire started around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, racing up the
sides of the building. Still authorities went ahead with the fireworks
show.
More than 12 hours later on Friday morning, Dubai
firefighters largely watched the fire from the ground, unable at one
point to use a water hose on a ladder truck. They later regained water
pressure and resumed spraying the building. Restaurants nearby opened
for business, but served limited menus as civil defense officials cut
natural gas to the area.
 

Smoke and flames pour out from the building. Photo / AP
By the afternoon, the blaze had largely died down, but
small fires were still visible burning through some windows, sending
smoke into the air.
Dubai Civil Defense said the fire appeared to
have started on the 20th floor terrace, according to a statement by the
government media office. Witnesses who saw the blaze start said they
believed it began on the building’s ground floor.
The Civil Defense said “cooling procedures” were still underway Friday, and that the investigation was underway into the cause.
Around
1 million people had been expected to gather around the Burj Khalifa
skyscraper to watch the fireworks. Dubai’s economy depends heavily on
tourism, and New Year’s is one of the busiest seasons, drawing people
from around the world to watch the fireworks that the emirate puts on at
the world’s tallest tower, as well as the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and
over a man-made palm-shaped island.
Dubai-based Emaar Properties,
which built the Burj Khalifa, the Address Downtown and other
surrounding developments, declined to immediately answer questions about
the fire posed by The Associated Press. It did issue a statement
praising authorities “for their immediate and professional support.”
“An investigation is ongoing and details will be provided once they are ascertained,” the statement said.
Lt.
Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s deputy prime minister
and interior minister, also praised first responders to the blaze for
“the success of the rescue operation” in comments published by the
state-run WAM agency.
But challenges remain as Dubai has
faced a series of recent tower fires. In February, a similar blaze
spread along the external cladding of Dubai’s 86-story Torch tower, one
of the world’s tallest residential buildings. There were no serious
casualties in that fire. In October, another fire broke out in a
high-rise residential tower in the Emirati city of Sharjah.

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