Latest update: Weary residents of The Torch tower gradually moved back into their homes late Saturday night after Dubai Civil Defence cordoned off apartments that were badly damaged in the fire that gutted through the exterior of the building in the early hours yesterday.
Suntosh Naidu moved back into his 69th floor apartment at 7.30am on Sunday, telling Emirates 24|7 that his dream of watching the India versus South Africa match of the Cricket World Cup 2015 took a backseat.
He said: “I hung around the 97th floor rest area in the neighbouring Princess Tower till perhaps 10.30pm on Saturday, but I finally gave up and moved into a friend’s home for the night.
“However, I was informed by others that around 11pm, residents were able to move back into the apartments that did not sustain damage in the fire.”
He said the rest of them had to move into a hotel, with the Kingfield Owner Association Management Services helping several residents make arrangements for the same.
Resident of 56th floor Kiera Doherty also updated on her Twitter account yesterday that residents were taken in small groups to get emergency items including wallets and passports.
Several good Samaritans offered rooms to residents of The Torch, while others came forward to donate clothes, blankets and food to the stricken residents; the Italian embassy reportedly even sent chefs with food to cheer people up.
Apartments on the 51st floor have yet to be handed over say residents.
Select Group, the developer of The Torch in Dubai Marina, commended the Dubai authorities and Kingfield Owners Association for their incredibly swift response in helping to bring the situation under control.
Earlier in the day (Saturday) the management committee of The Torch tower confirmed to Emirates 24|7 that residents living from floors six to 28 have now been allowed access into the building that caught fire in the morning hours of Saturday in Dubai Marina.
The spokesperson from Kingfield Owner Association Management Services that it was liaising with Dubai Civil Defence to ensure the smooth transition of residents into the building, once it is given an all clear.
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In a detailed statement, the management company further added: “Temporary shelter and provisions for residents in the adjacent Princess Tower has been arranged.
"The main focus at this time is to ensure that all residents are safe and looked after while we also assist in arrangements for alternative accommodation for those whose apartments have been affected.”
Kingfield also stated all fire safety systems functioned effectively during the incident thereby restricting fire damage to the exterior of the building.
Hours after a fire ripped through a residential tower in Dubai Marina, residents still appeared shaken up as they recalled the horror of watching their home go up in flames in the early hours of Saturday.
While many were able to grab their precious belongings as they were being evacuated, several others stated they were not home when the fire broke out at 1.49am and were left fretting for their pets that were still trapped in the building.
At 11am, The Torch tower still remained under lockdown, with residents taking refuge on the 97th floor of the neighbouring Princess Tower, which is also run by the same management company, Kingfield.
Foldable mattresses are strewn around the Observatory room that has been turned into a temporary refuge for weary residents, with water and biscuits being supplied by Kingfield as they await an all clear from Civil Defence to re-enter The Torch.
Meanwhile, the roads around The Torch remain closed to traffic as the clean-up crew clear the area of fallen debris and broken shards of glass that fell from the one of the largest residential buildings in the emirate.
According to residents, they were first alerted of a blaze around 2am, with some stating they were woken up to the sound of “frantic banging on the door”, while others heard the building fire alarm and the public intercom asking people to evacuate the premises.
British national Justine, who is a resident on the 36th floor, said: “I was fast asleep, with my pregnant sister staying over, while my husband is travelling to the UK. We woke up to someone banging on my front door screaming we had to evacuate due to a fire.”
Justine said she had the presence of mind to grab her phone and car keys before she and her sister ran out of the building; but they chose to remain outdoors as the blaze spread across floors due to the storm.
She continued: “I couldn’t look away as the fire spread from the 50th floor nearly all the way to the 80th floor it appeared. Unfortunately, the strong winds carried the debris across the building façade to the 38th floor on the other side of the tower, causing a second fire.”
Justine, whose apartment faces the rear of the building, stated she was worried about her belongings left inside but was grateful that all the residents were able to escape the inferno without any injuries.
Santhosh, a South African national who lives on the 69th floor of the building, had a similar experience, saying: “I was fast asleep when I was woken up around 2am to the sound of the building fire alarm and the intercom blaring that we needed to evacuate due to a fire.
“I only had time to grab my cigarettes and join the rest of the residents as we fled the building.”
As a new resident of The Torch, Santhosh stated that he had only moved into his apartment five days ago, with his furniture delivered on Thursday.
“The folks from du were expected on Saturday to set up my internet and cable connection so I could watch the South Africa vs India Cricket World Cup match,” he laughed. “At least I am grateful to be alive.”
Debbie Wilder, a resident of the 59th floor, said: “My husband and I managed to escape in our sleepwear and not much else.
“Our passports, belongings have all been left behind and we are a tad worried considering the fire originated just a few apartments below ours.”
A French family of five, including an 18-month old baby, admitted they were holidaying in Dubai for a week and had rented an apartment on the 39th floor of The Torch until Monday.
Nadine, mother of three, recounted her first thoughts were to get her children to safety immediately.
She said: “We were all asleep when the fire alarm alerted us to an emergency. I grabbed my youngest who is 18- months-old and yelled for my other two children to leave everything behind and just get out of the building.”
She continued: “With little children with us, we decided to find rooms in the neighbouring hotels for the night, but as nothing was available, we ended up in Princess Tower with the other building residents and wait to be let back in.”
With young children in tow, Nadine admitted her husband was sent back out to find emergency care supplies, including baby diapers, formula and food considering they were still unaware of how long this lockdown would stay in place.
Attendants of the 24-hours Life Pharmacy in the neighbouring building admitted that they had recorded sales of nearly Dh6,000 in the morning hours, with evacuated residents coming into to purchase water, baby products and slippers, with several running out of the burning tower without footwear.
However, a 19th floor resident, who was at Jumeirah Lakes Towers at the time of the blaze, admitted she was quite worried for her pet that was still trapped in the building.
“The irony is that my friends and I were discussing just a few hours earlier how a number of towers had caught fire in JLT and comparatively, the Dubai Marina buildings were so sturdy; and then I drove home to this,” she said. “I am more worried though for my cat who is still trapped in the apartment, which is why I refuse to return to my friends as yet.”
A Kingfield rep on the scene stated that most of the damage sustained by the blaze has been contained to the exterior of the building.
The cause of fire is still under investigation.