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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Cigarette caused Dubai's Torch tower fire

Butt thrown from balcony landed on plant pots, sparking blaze

Five major tower fires have broken out over the past six years, including two blazes at the Torch tower in Dubai Marina. Antonie Robertson / The National
Five major tower fires have broken out over the past six years, including two blazes at the Torch tower in Dubai Marina. Antonie Robertson / The National

Dubai’s fire chief yesterday said that a recklessly tossed cigarette caused the fire at The Torch tower this month.

The fire, which forced 475 people from their homes and prompted an outpouring of support from the community, was caused by the cigarette falling on to balcony plants and setting them alight.

Officials said that high winds helped the fire to take hold and the building’s flammable cladding may also have played a part.

“The torch fire was caused by a minor source of heat and wind ignited the fire,” said Maj Gen Rashid Al Matroushi, director of Dubai Civil Defence.

Maj Gen Abduallah Al Marri, Commander in Chief of Dubai Police, said: “We suspect that a person threw a cigarette butt and it landed on a plant at a balcony at The Torch tower, which caused the fire.”

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There were no casualties in the blaze in Dubai Marina on August 4, although authorities said it had damaged 38 apartments over 64 floors, up to the 85th.

But there were deaths in other Dubai fires this year. Gen Al Matroushi said four people had died and 66 were injured in fires so far this year.

This compares with four dead and 25 injured last year and seven dead and 35 injured in fires in 2015, Dubai Civil Defence said.

The fire chief said his department responded to 57 incidents in the first eight months of this year, with most of them minor.

“The fires took place in one high-rise tower, 10 buildings, nine under-construction sites, 15 commercial facilities, 14 residential establishments and other areas,” Gen Al Matroushi said.

“The two main causes of fires in Dubai are electric circuits and tossing cigarettes recklessly.”

Most fires occur in Al Quoz, Al Satwa and Al Karama were the areas where most fires occur.

“Dubai Civil Defence has achieved significant results in protecting people’s lives and putting down fires in a record time,” Gen Al Matroushi said.

“Civil Defence officials and firefighters concentrate mainly on protecting people’s lives and providing the best techniques to stop fires.”

Fifty-four people were affected by smoke inhalation, the main cause of deaths in fires, while four suffered from minor burns in fires this year, Civil Defence said.

Ten firefighters were injured while battling blazes in 2017, 27 in 2016 and 10 in 2015.

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