Dubai fire: crews tackle major blaze at Downtown high-rise

Emergency services extinguish blaze by dawn, leaving large part of facade charred

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Firefighters tackled a large blaze at a high-rise in Downtown Dubai in the early hours of Monday.

Footage showed flames spreading throughout the 35-floor building.

The flames were out by dawn, with a large part of the facade charred.

The building is part of a tower complex called 8 Boulevard Walk by Emaar, the developer.

My building faces Boulevard 8 and from what appeared to us, the cladding on the left side of the building was on fire from top to bottom
Bindu Rai, a resident who lives in the area

“All residents were safely evacuated, and there were no injuries or casualties,” said Dubai Civil Defence.

“The teams arrived at the scene five minutes after the operations room was alerted of the fire at 3.11am.

“The field commander confirmed at 4.52am that the fire had been brought under control and at 6.08am, the operations were completely over and the site was handed over to the authorities concerned to take the necessary action.”

Emaar said it was helping residents impacted by the incident.

Bindu Rai, who lives in a building opposite the scene, said the fire started around 2.20am.

“My mother woke up when the fire started as her entire room was lit up,” Ms Rai said.

“My building faces Boulevard 8 and from what appeared to us, the cladding on the left side of the building was on fire from top to bottom.

“Fire had spread inside two apartments that were somewhere mid-way. For the rest of the building, it was limited to the exterior."

She said there were chunks of debris falling on the ground at one stage.

“It was brought under control by 3.45am and we could see firefighters and emergency crews at the scene," she said.

“A friend, who lives near the mosque that is across the Boulevard building, told me that the entire area has been cordoned off and people have been taken to Rove and other places.”

Residents wait to return home

Fire in 35-storey building in Downtown Dubai

Fire in 35-storey building in Downtown Dubai

Residents of the tower are still waiting to return home.

Dubai Police cordoned off the area so recovery work could take place and debris cleared from the streets below.

It is thought some apartments have smoke and water damage.

Witnesses said the fire broke out on one of the lower floors, possibly floor four, and then rapidly spread to the cladding.

Fire drills were regularly held at the tower, occupied by many families and young children - all of whom are reported to have been evacuated safely.

Most just left with the clothes they were wearing, with families taken to nearby Address, Rove and Ramada hotels.

One Russian woman, who talked to The National, was due to travel later on Monday.

She was desperately seeking information on when she would be allowed back into her apartment to retrieve her passport and clothes to catch her evening flight.

“Everything I have is inside the apartment, all I have is the clothes I am wearing,” said the woman, who did not want to give her name.

“I have had to show my airline ticket to allow me to go back into the building but I don’t know when that will be.”

At 9.30am, a busload of beauticians arrived for work at a nail salon underneath the tower, unaware the building had been evacuated.

Security staff, Dubai Civil Defence and police were on the ground to help with the recovery operation.

Residents taken to hotels

Workers in the Al Maya supermarket directly below the fire were evacuated at 2.44am, shortly after the fire. The supermarket reopened at around 8.45am.

“The fire was out within an hour,” one person from the supermarket said.

“Civil defence were here very quickly and everyone managed to get out, they were given food and bottles of water and then bused to hotels.”

One resident, who only moved into her apartment five months ago, told how she “ran for her life” after hearing the fire alarms sound.

“I was on the 12th floor so I took the stairs to get out as quickly as possible,” she said.

“There was a fire drill last Monday that was optional to take part in as an evacuation practice but I didn’t take part.

“I don’t know when I will be allowed back in.”

A housemaid who looks after families in apartments on the ninth, 19th and 34th floors said the fire alarms are tested most days.

“My madam thought it was a false alarm at first as it goes off quite often,” she said.

“She is now staying at the Ramada Hotel near The Frame.

“There are lots of children in the building but everyone got out.”

Updated: May 16, 2023, 11:33 AM