DUBAI - Debris and charred remains of belongings were all that were left behind as residents stared in shock after a major fire in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Tower area displaced several families from their homes.
Residents of the Tamweel Tower woke up to fire alarms early on Sunday morning as a fire which started on one of the top floors of the building spread to the lower floors and raged for over six hours, sweeping through homes and cars in its wake. Rescue teams evacuated 600 people from 160 flats in the tower.
Three floors were completely destroyed in the fire which covered the east and south side of the tower along with 11 cars parked below the building. Residents from nearby buildings were also evacuated as winds fanned the flames.
“The operation room of Dubai Police received information about the fire and dispatched five fire brigades from Al Barsha, Al Manara, Satwa, Karama, Port Saeed and Rashidya,” confirmed a police official.
A spokesperson from Tamweel confirmed there were no casualties and residents were being provided with alternative accommodation.
Varun Sood, acting chief executive officer of Tamweel said: “Our staff are on site and have provided transportation and hotel accommodation, in coordination with DMCC, to any resident who requires such assistance. We will continue to work with the building’s owners association to assist all residents and we remain fully committed to ensuring their well-being,”
The fire started around 1:30am on Sunday and fire alarms in the Cluster U buildings woke up in the heat of the night.
600 evacuated from towering inferno Danielle Kamar, who lives behind Tamweel Tower had to leave her apartment as part of the safety procedures. “It’s right behind the building I live in so they evacuated us too for safety reasons. We had to stay outside from 2am when the alarm first went off until 7am when the fire was more contained,” said Danielle.
Several residents took refuge in parking lots as firefighters tried to contain the blaze ravaging through the lower floor. Falling debris made the operation even more difficult as large chunks of the building façade melted and fell on cars parked below, which caught fire.
“From downstairs in Cluster X, we could hear the fire crackling, there were ashes floating everywhere and these huge, flaming chunks falling off the building, starting their own on-ground chaos. Facades of the building were just bursting into flames.”
Eyewitnesses reported seeing damaged cars in the area and another JLT resident Saad Kayyali shared a similar story.
“I went outside my balcony after hearing sirens and I could see yellow reflections. I knew there was something wrong and I immediately came down from my building,” said Saad.
Twitter users were first to break the news as they shared photos of the tower and posted videos on YouTube.
Nabila Usmani (@NabsUsmani) tweeted, “My bldg tamweel towers in JLT dxb caught fire. All of us are safe at a relative’s place. None of us have our phones with us. Don’t worry.”
Nidhi Jha, another eyewitness in the area said: “The police were evacuating people and we could hear fire alarms. A few cars parked below the building had also caught fire.”
Staff of offices and businesses in the area had to make their way through long lines of vehicles that clogged the entire JLT area on Sunday morning.”
Firefighting units managed to bring the fire under control at 8:19am before it spread to nearby buildings. Cooling operations continued during the day as police cordoned off the area and forensic experts examined the site to determine the cause of the fire.
Major-General Khamis Matter Al Mazeina, Deputy Commander in chief of the Dubai Police confirmed no one was injured in the fire and building residents were moved to hotels in the area.
The fire-fighting operation was led by Lt-Colonel Othaman Mohammed Ahli, Director of Al Manara Civil Defence station, and Abdul Rahman bin Shalat, Director of Al Barsha Civil Defence station, in the presence of Major-General Rashid Thani Al Matroushi and Colonel Hamdan Mohammed Al Raisi, Director and Assistant Director, respectively, of the Dubai Civil Defence.
In a show of solidarity and support, several companies in the JLT area have offered to help the fire victims.
Shuja Qadir, owner of Sheikh and Shake, a newly-opened restaurant in JLT, has offered free tea, coffee and internet for the victims. “We are neighbours to these people. People from the Tamweel Building can come and have free tea and coffee at our outlet. They can also charge their mobile phones and laptops and make use of the WiFi facilities for free.”
Another company, Pets in the City, is providing free daycare shelter to pets displaced by the fire in the Tamweel Tower. A store manager confirmed to Khaleej Times, the company was providing care for the pets.