Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 28 March 2020

Dubai's Duja Tower fire: Neighbours and hotels rally behind residents after blaze

After a tower caught fire on Sheikh Zayed Road, neighbours offered shelter and food to strangers

Neighbours opened their homes and offered shelter to residents of Dubai’s Duja Tower after a fire on Thursday night.

The blaze broke out around 8pm and rose up the tower’s facade. Flaming debris fell from the building.

Residents kept in touch on WhatsApp groups, including an official group for the building’s management.

At 10.30pm, as the fire continued to spread, word reached residents that they were welcomed to stay at the nearby Sheraton Grand Hotel.

“It was really a nice gesture,” said Nada Badran, a Duja Tower resident who lives with her parents.

As they settled in, neighbours from adjacent buildings stopped by to offer people accommodation in their homes. Some brought food.

“People living in nearby buildings also arrived carrying goodies and sent an invite to everyone from Duja Tower to come stay at their homes while the matter is dealt with,” said Ms Badran.

“This was very generous given that we are all strangers but they still offered to open their homes to us, something you don’t see often these days.”

Some accepted the offer of staying with neighbours in nearby homes.

About 50 tower residents stayed at the Sheraton in conference rooms and halls converted into dormitories. Residents were given accommodation, food and access to spa facilities. Cots were provided for children.

“A key part of our brand DNA is to be in the heart of the community and this is what the team of the hotel demonstrated last night by helping and accommodating the impacted residents,” said a statement from the hotel.

Some tenants were escorted back to the tower after midnight to take their valuable belongings. On Friday afternoon, residents returned to collect more personal items and packed suitcases into cars.

Duja Tower management informed residents at about 7am on Friday morning that rooms have been arranged to accommodate them at Hotel Ibis World Trade Centre.

The incident was well handled and the people were immediately informed of updates, said Ms Badran.

Residents gather belongings from their homes at Duja Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai after a fire scorched the side of the building on Thursday night. Victor Besa / The National 
Residents gather belongings from their homes at Duja Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai after a fire scorched the side of the building on Thursday night. Victor Besa / The National

Duja Tower management and Dubai Civil Defence could not be reached for comment.

No comment has been issued on the cause of the fire and no injuries were reported.

The UAE’s fire and safety code was updated in 2017 and banned the use of cladding with a polyethylene core. The cladding is similar to that used in panels at Grenfell Tower in London, where 72 people died in a fire in June 2017.

There is no requirement for existing structures to be retrofitted.

Updated: February 22, 2020 02:14 PM

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