Why Dubai Must Prevent Another Tower Blaze

A spate of high-tower fires sends out a worrying picture of Dubai to the world.

The dramatic visuals of the fire that raged through Torch Tower – one of the tallest buildings in Dubai Marina – on Saturday, were rapidly circulated across the world – mainly thanks to social media.

The fire broke out in the upper stories of the Marina Torch, a 340 metre tall building with 79 floors, in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It was put out in 20-25 minutes, authorities said.

Hundreds were quickly evacuated, and although no was harmed – kudos to Dubai’s emergency services – the news was covered by most media organisations in the world.

In fact as someone pointed it out, it created more of a stir than a warehouse fire in Abu Dhabi that killed atleast 10 people on Friday.

The reason is fairly obvious; seeing a massive residential tower burning bright in the middle of the night is typically restricted to action thrillers or horror flicks.

So, when such an incident actually happens, especially in the city which boasts the world’s tallest building and the world’s tallest residential tower (which is located right next to the Torch), it makes for a strong news case.

While authorities are still investigating the cause for the blaze, this is not the first time Dubai has seen such an accident.

A similar fire engulfed the Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) in November 2012, and again, while thankfully there were no casualties, one side of the building was entirely gutted. A police report later identified a disposed cigarette butt as the cause of the blaze.

Such accidents in areas packed with high-rise towers are a major cause for concern.

Not only are residents of the affected buildings left homeless and possibly scarred, but the incidents also send out a worrying image of Dubai to the world. Rarely do you see a high-rise in New York or London witnessing such an accident.

Whatever is the cause behind the blaze, experts have blamed faulty or cheap cladding as a reason for them to spread so rapidly. Are safety measures being adhered to? Is the latest incident another wake-up call for better safety standards?

And if all the necessary precautions and procedures are being implemented, why are such fires still happening?

With Dubai aiming to attract more talent and lure more tourists ahead of 2020, it simply needs to ensure that such incidents are prevented.