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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Dubai Torch tower fire: Residents concerned about long-term accommodation

Kingfield Owner Association Management Services on Sunday said they were providing residents with emergency accommodation until further notice

The inside of Tayyba Qureshi's apartment following the fire at the Torch tower on Friday morning. Courtesy Tayyba Qureshi
The inside of Tayyba Qureshi's apartment following the fire at the Torch tower on Friday morning. Courtesy Tayyba Qureshi

Residents of the Torch tower will be given emergency accommodation for the foreseeable future, according to the tower’s management company.

Kingfield Owner Association Management Services on Sunday said they were unable to confirm when residents would be allowed to return to their flats as investigations into the fire that broke out on Friday morning are still under way.

“The majority of residents have taken up emergency accommodation in nearby hotels and arrangements are being extended until further notice from Dubai Civil Defence,” said Anel-Carline Beukes, head of compliance and communication.

Meanwhile, Torch tower residents said they are unsure of where they will move to at the end of the week.

Many residents are living in accommodation provided by the nearby Media One Hotel and Radisson Blu following support extended by Dubai radio station Dance FM 97.8.

“I will have to move in with my relatives in Sharjah but don’t know what will happen when my family returns,” said a resident whose home was badly damaged in the fire.

“I never thought this would happen to us again after the fire two years ago. It’s just terrible to relive everything again.”

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Other residents of the Dubai Marina tower block said that although there was no damage to their apartments, it was unlikely they would be allowed to return until comprehensive repair work was undertaken.

“I was able to check my apartment from the outside and could see no fire damage but I don’t know what the hazards are within in terms of smoke and damage due to smoke,” said a Canadian who moved into the Torch after the 2015 fire.

“We have been told we have accommodation for a few days but I have not figured out what I will be doing after this. At least no one has been left homeless. On the first night naturally there was chaos and I had to find my own accommodation with friends but that is understandable. I have a few months left in my contract but I don’t think anyone is going to be allowed back in.”

People look on as a fire tears through the Torch tower's southern corner. Antonie Robertson / The National
People look on as a fire tears through the Torch tower's southern corner. Antonie Robertson / The National
Another resident was out of the country when she heard her apartment had been damaged by the fire.

Tayyba Qureshi, a teacher at a school in Dubai, is in the UK for summer holidays and was sent pictures of her blackened apartment and destroyed balcony but is unsure how soon she can return to arrange for accommodation.

On Sunday, Maj Gen Khalil Al Mansouri, assistant to Dubai Police’s Chief for Criminal Investigation, said forensic experts from the mechanical engineering department were still on-site investigating the cause of the blaze, which is expected to be revealed later this week.

The charred black line along Dubai Marina's Torch tower, one of the world's tallest residential buildings, after Friday morning's fire. Reem Mohammed / The National.
The charred black line along Dubai Marina's Torch tower, one of the world's tallest residential buildings, after Friday morning's fire. Reem Mohammed / The National.

He said police and civil defence teams are collecting valuable items found in the building and are storing them at a mobile police station for residents to collect.

Maj Gen Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, said the mobile police station is equipped with all the services available at any permanent station and is available near the tower.

“The mobile police station is available at the site for residents living in the tower to lodge complaints about lost and found belongings,” he said, adding that tenants whose apartments have not been damaged will be allowed to return to their homes once the investigation is completed.

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