View Full Version : Fire rips through Dubai skyscraper

21st Feb 2015, 01:11
Beeb reporting fire in The Storm building, reputed to be one of the tallest in the world. That's one hell of a long way down without a parachute.


BBC News - Fire rips through Dubai skyscraper (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31562099)

One wonders what a person could do if the fire is below them?

21st Feb 2015, 01:32
Yeah, I've seen that building from the marina and from the air. I sure hope everybody got out.

We may never know.

Loose rivets
21st Feb 2015, 01:49
They're saying people are being allowed to return. Is it Apl 1st yet? I'm at a loss.

It seems the core of the building was okay, while the fire raced through the outer shell. But still, to allow people back in . . . I suppose it's to do with them having nowhere else to go to as in a fire some years ago.

Maybe the structure is designed to isolate coaxial compartments. It seems to have worked well. Well, let's hope the reports of no one hurt are true.

21st Feb 2015, 01:55
I've been waiting for something like this, in one of these "super-skyscrapers". I wonder how much the basic structure has been weakened by the fire?
I get nervous in anything over 4 storeys, thinking about all the idiots below me indulging in high-fire-risk activities - cooking with flammable oils, unattended candles, even electrical failures that set fire fire to furnishings.
I've had my house burn down when I was out, and it was no fault of mine. An electrical fault loaded 90V into a neutral wire, raising the voltage supply to the house to 330V. This melted the clock/radio beside my bed, which set fire to the curtains, the rest is history.

21st Feb 2015, 03:22
One wonders what a person could do if the fire is below them?So what would people do? Head further up in the hope that a chopper may be able to lift people off the roof? Try to make a parachute out of bed sheets? Or stick your head between your legs and kiss your *rsse goodbye?

Happy to go to any altitude known to man as PiC or Pax, but above ten storeys whilst still attached to the ground makes me feel uncomfortable.

21st Feb 2015, 03:54
I own an apartment on a lower floor in an adjacent tower.....it is simply shocking how many cigarette butts, amongst other things, is thrown over the side from higher apartments. These people just cannot help themselves, like the way that they drive on the roads. Everything is somebody elses fault, no sense of responsibility whatsoever......shameful

John Hill
21st Feb 2015, 03:55
One wonders what a person could do if the fire is below them?

Throw everything flammable on your floor out the windows, block the stairwell and liftshaft if possible, move up one floor and repeat.

Lon More
21st Feb 2015, 05:28
Photo on the earlier linked Beeb web page seems to show two separate fires some 50 floors apart.

21st Feb 2015, 06:56
Beeb reporting fire in The Storm building

Not the Storm.....it is called the "Torch". :ooh:

herman the crab
21st Feb 2015, 07:42
The Towering Inferno - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Towering_Inferno)


joy ride
21st Feb 2015, 09:10
The most frightening thing about the Arabian towers is the enormous amount of air conditioning equipment and stupendous amounts of wires and electrical equipment to run it, on top of lighting and cooking. The electrical systems would get hot without their own ventilation systems, and these increase the amount of wires.

It seems that this time quick response and /or luck prevented a disaster, but I am convinced that one day the holes will line up...

Carbon Bootprint
21st Feb 2015, 12:08
I'm currently staying at the Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites, literally across the street from the Torch. It was a pretty spectacular scene early this morning, as I've never seen anything quite as awesome as a fully involved high rise fire. Kudos to the Civil Defence for a quick response, though I think it was probably just good fortune everyone got out OK.

Many of the residents were being sheltered in the lobby of my hotel and were provided with blankets and water until more long term accommodations could be found for them. An Ozzie chap -- not sure if was a rep of the building or its insurer -- came in and said those below the 51st floor would probably be allowed to move back in today. Those on the higher floors might have to wait a few days, and then it would only be to get important items that might be salvageable.

The building was just opened in 2011, so presumably it was equipped with a sprinkler system. It's simply amazing how quickly the fire spread, though the desert winds that brought us yesterday's dust storm no doubt played a major factor.

Hotels are one thing; I'm not sure I'd care for high rise living on a regular basis.

cockney steve
21st Feb 2015, 18:15
Did someone torch it?
hat, coat.

21st Feb 2015, 18:22
sure, they shouldn't have called it Torch.

btw, would a reverse version be better?


21st Feb 2015, 18:38
Would a reverse version be better?
I'm not sure that I'm convinced that emergency escalators would suffice to act as effective fire escapes.

21st Feb 2015, 19:24
Reminded me of when the Shola shoping centre / mall in Khobar caught fire; the local fire crews arrived, but it was then prayer time, so nothing was done for 20 odd minutes, by which time it was too far gone.....

Carbon Bootprint
21st Feb 2015, 19:25
Captainsmiffy has probably hit the nail on the head. The driver who took me to DXB this evening said that word is that the fire was caused by someone throwing a cigarette butt off the building, which apparently landed on someone else's terrace. With strong, dry winds, the building went up fast. I'd still be interested to know if the sprinkler system functioned as designed.

I will have to admit I haven't the faintest idea of how the Dubai Civil Defence (fire brigade) operates, but one thing that both surprised and perplexed me was the presence of numerous water tanker trucks at the site. I mean, here we are, in a modern city with a presumably up-to-date water supply. On top of that, we're basically at seaside, so there should not have been a shortage of water. However, I can understand salt water isn't good for the standpipes in a high-rise.

Perhaps it was just a precaution, as I never saw any water being drawn from the tankers. And I suppose there are areas in fast-growing Dubai where the water infrastructure may not be well developed and tankers are essential to fire fighting efforts.

I've had my own house catch fire before (courtesy of a plumber, of all things) and was inside whilst it was burning to retrieve certain valuables. Not at all a pleasant experience, and I hope things turn out well for those who lived and stayed there.

21st Feb 2015, 19:56
Many many moons ago, one of the Refineries on Teesside had a 'nasty do'!!!,
Massive multiple F/brigade turnout (40 + engines)

MAte of mine was the offsites supervisor, at the Debrief the next day word went round 'who ordered all the Vacuum (gulley sucker) trucks' - my mate admitted to this, and was widely praised for his foresight (despite them not being used!!)

Months later he was called to the Finance Office and reamed for wasting money, exceeding authority etc!!!

So hope the guy who ordered the Water tankers has his arse covered!!!

PZULBA - Out of Africa (Retired)

Carbon Bootprint
21st Feb 2015, 20:16
Sorry to hear about your mate, pzu. Blasted finance officers!

Where I live, there are many high-rise buildings (though I don't live in one), and the fire brigade has a very robust and prescribed response protocol for those structures. The amount of equipment they send and their staging procedures is quite impressive.

They have the same type of thing for a commercial aircraft emergency, and from what I've seen of this they appear to be equally ready for either an A380 or an EMB145. It may appear to some to be over the top, but when something like this happens I guess it's best to have more resources on hand than to not.

I would hope that whoever ordered the tanks was just sticking to the plan and shouldn't have to worry about covering his backside.

21st Feb 2015, 20:32
From what I could see of the pictures the building mostly functioned as it was supposed to, the only F*ck up being the use of flammable exterior cladding. The corner rooms are all burned but the adjacent windows appear mostly intact. Looks as thought the sprinkles worked just fine or the whole thing would have burned all round.

Also looking at the pictures it looks as though the concrete held up and so did the interior walls. Don't know whether they are gyproc on steel studs or clay bricks or concrete block (or light weight conc. block.) Maybe just the sprinklers kept them wet enough not to burn.

If people might throw cigarette butts off their balconies then obviously you shouldn't have flammable surfaces anywhere below, floor or walls or cladding.

Be interesting to see whether they have to scaffold or rebuild from staging or ariel platforms.

21st Feb 2015, 21:00
I can imagine that buildings higher than presumably 15 stores must rely on own sprinkler systems as ladders and hoses hardly can reach higher.
The pressure to get water higher than 20-30 stores will presumably demand serious pumpcapacity beyond the one of fire engines :-/

Beside that, I'm quite interested if anybody can explain to me how the watersystem of highrisers are designed as the needed pressure for normal tap-flow on the top will be unuseable high for the lovest part!?

21st Feb 2015, 23:08
One rather tall structure I used to work in had a firefighting reservoir at the top.

After an excellent landing etc...

Pappa Smurf
22nd Feb 2015, 00:29
Was the outer cladding material by the looks.The brickwork behind it was a bit short on the cement as well.
Looks like 2 separate corners of the building caught alight which seems odd and would surely point to a likelihood of arson

Um... lifting...
22nd Feb 2015, 02:13

Stepped water systems. Storage tank and pump system every 3 floors or so. Each tank serves a few floors below it, so the pressure never gets excessive. Also, it's very difficult to quietly pump water vertically much over about 10m of elevation.

22nd Feb 2015, 04:15
P Smurf

In early videos there was falling debris, light weight and flaming, so wouldn't be surprised if some of it set lower floor cladding and adjacent corners lower down on fire.

22nd Feb 2015, 05:04
The driver who took me to DXB this evening said that word is that the fire was caused by someone throwing a cigarette butt off the building, which apparently landed on someone else's terrace.

A few years ago, my mom (living on the 5th floor of a 12 storeys building in Ottawa) had a cigarette butt landing straight on her balcony inside a plant pot stuffed with dry leafs.
She stopped a little fire that could have gone out of proportion very quickly.

How one could be so irresponsible dumb to throw a lite butt like that! :ugh: :*

22nd Feb 2015, 06:00
Chaps, dont forget that this is Dubai we are talking about. Building regs either do not exist or get conveniently forgotten/ignored. Also, there is no such thing as personal responsibility either on, say, the roads or with respect to things like throwing cigarettes over the side. I am not jesting when I say that there are literally thousands that have landed on the floors around and below us. There wont be a fire.......inshallah....!! Somebody even threw dog faeces over the side, to land on the ledge outside my apartment - rather than pop it down the loo in their own apartment. This place really is a lost cause in terms of personal responsibility :ugh:

Worrals in the wilds
22nd Feb 2015, 10:00
The ciggie butt problem is not limited to Dubai. :sad:
I live in an Australian high rise and often find other people's cigarette butts on my balcony, along with food wrappers, stubby coolers and (once) a pair of very well-worn male underpants :yuk:. One morning I found a cigarette butt on my living room carpet, where it had flown in the open window and burned a hole. Fortunately, for some years now Australian bushfire regulations mandate that cigarettes cannot contain self burning chemicals (I think saltpetre was used??) and it landed on a wool carpet, so it extinguished itself without further damage. The building manager told me that some years ago a resident's curtains caught fire after a similar incident. Ferals are ferals and exist everywhere. :ugh:

I see that the fire spread from one floor to the others; aren't modern high rise buildings supposed to be built so a fire is contained to a single unit, or at least a single floor? :confused: Anyway, glad no-one was killed or seriously hurt.

Lance Murdoch
22nd Feb 2015, 10:04
It's been only a matter of time before this happened. I sincerely hope that nobody was hurt. It will happen again and I doubt that we will be so lucky next time. I have been resident in Dubai for a year and have a job which involves civil engineering. The building almost certainly has a plastic based cladding on the outside hence the roman candle effect and it may have plastic clad HVAC ducting inside which will allow fire spread. Sprinklers will not do much for an external fire but may have helped to keep the building structure cool preventing structural failure.
I live at the other end of the Marina in JBR. There is a reason I keep my wallet and passport next to my bed because if there is a fire I will be out of the building like a rat up a drainpipe. These are the only things I need to book into a hotel or get an airline ticket home. I can easily buy new clothes and a toothbrush etc.
My money would be on a discarded cigarette causing the Torch fire. There does seem to be a complete disregard for others amongst a significant minority of Dubai residents. Although the locals quite often get the blame, in my experience some of the nouveau riche expats can be far more ignorant.

22nd Feb 2015, 10:56
The ciggie butt problem is not limited to Dubai.

Walking along country roads here in Spain the verges are littered with fag-ends tossed out of car windows. And then they wonder why they have devastating forest fires each summer.....

22nd Feb 2015, 13:00
Aren't a lot of these new towers built around a main core that is of metal and concrete and then floors suspended from this load bearing column which allows all the cosmetic razzmatazz on the outside, much of which is as said above made of flammable material ?

The city of the future, a utopia of glimmering high risers has always seemed the dream of planners and architects, yet the inhabitants are as stupid, perhaps even more stupid than those who went before us. If it were me I'd probably not want to be living much above the 5th floor, at least then you'd have the chance to flee by foot. Unless the fire was on the 4th floor :(


22nd Feb 2015, 13:05
And 10 'guest workers' die in a fire in an illegal housing complex in Abu Dhabi ... The survivors will likely be deported (without back-pay) 'for knowing too much'.

PPRuNe Dispatcher
22nd Feb 2015, 18:09
The cruise ship "Star Princess" suffered a major balcony in 2006 which wasn't immediately detected. The ship's motion created a wind which blew the fire along many balconies.


The cause was never positively identified but one strong possibility was a cigarette thrown from above set fire to a towel or other material left on a balcony.

The ship's sprinkler system worked well; although a number of cabins and balconies were destroyed, the fire did not penetrate through any balconies and into the passageway. Shortly after that fire, infrared fire detectors and sprinklers were installed on almost all cruise ship balconies. Many ships and some modern high-rise buildings now have a hi-fog extinguishing system; it would be interesting to know if the Torch Tower has a similar system.


23rd Feb 2015, 05:51
I also live at the other end of the Marina in JBR and over the past 6 months there have been several letters under the door from the management company warning people not to throw cigarette ends from the balconies but it still happens every day.

For the second time a building in Dubai has dodged a bullet, I fear next time we will not be so lucky.

23rd Feb 2015, 06:38
...letters under the door from the management company warning people not to throw cigarette ends from the balconies but it still happens every day.
what is it, then, obsessive-compulsive disorder? :confused:

Lon More
23rd Feb 2015, 06:58
if there is a fire I will be out of the building like a rat up a drainpipe

maybe like a rat down a drainpipe would be a better simile?

Drifting off thread; the terminal building at Zaventem caught fire shortly after being built in the 1950s. The tower controllers had to be rescued by helicopter because the emergency staircases were finished with wooden steps which had caught fire. It was rebuilt still with wooden stairs which were still there in the mid 1970s.