In what is the latest outbreak in Dubai's recent incendiary "epidemic", shortly before 3pm local time a fire broke out at a 75-floor residential tower in Dubai, the fifth blaze in a skyscraper in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates in recent years.
Flames lept out of windows toward the top of the Sulafa tower in the upscale Marina district, and 10 to 15 floors appeared to have been charred, Reuters reported.
An official at Dubai Civil Defense said they received a call at 2.48pm and that the fire is still ongoing. The blaze started on the 35th floor, the official said. Hundreds of people were promptly evacuated.
Witnesses said it appeared to be spreading on the outside of the tower and that burning debris was falling from the side of the building. Burning debris floated toward the ground and firefighters approached the site with sirens blaring.
In March, a fire broke out at a residential tower in the nearby Emirate of Ajman. On New Year's Eve, a blaze hit a landmark downtown hotel in Dubai; in February last year, fire broke out at a 79-storey residential tower in Dubai, and in November 2012, a 34-storey Dubai residential building was partially gutted.
In some of those cases, experts said the flames may have been encouraged to spread by flammable exterior cladding, used for decoration or insulation.
The UAE revised its building safety code in 2013 to require that cladding on all new buildings over 15 meters (50 feet) tall be fire-resistant, but older buildings are exempt. It may need to revise it again.
My friend just shared this video of the Sulafa Tower fire at Dubai Marina - it's getting worse! pic.twitter.com/AseCnqXK3S— Kiera Doherty ? ???? (@kikipigeon) July 20, 2016
Video: Fire at Sulafa Tower, Dubai Marina. Take care if you're on the area. pic.twitter.com/fekMpGwzKv— DubaiWeek (@DubaiWeek) July 20, 2016
Dubai Marina tower evacuated after fire breaks out https://t.co/D7iGPDAlO7— 7DAYSUAE (@7DAYSUAE) July 20, 2016