A terrified tenant trapped on the 14th floor of a burning Downtown Dubai tower has hailed a hero receptionist for leading her to safety.
Hundreds of residents of 8 Boulevard Walk were woken shortly after 2am to the sound of alarms as flames ripped through cladding on the outside corner of the 35-storey building.
Eight fire engines and crews were sent to the high-rise, just a few hundred metres from the Burj Khalifa in the heart of Business Bay.
All residents escaped, with only minor injuries reported. One of those was Peri Hellyer who has lived on the tower’s 14th floor for 11 years.
Worker thanked for act of kindness
“I was really scared as I have asthma and a problem with my legs, if the receptionist had not crawled up to make sure I could get down I don’t know what I would have done,” she said.
“It was a really nice act of kindness that came from the heart.
“I’ve asked them before to think of me in a fire as I would struggle to leave on my own by the stairs, I can’t imagine what would have happened if I was on the top floor.
“He held my hand all the way to the ground.
“I don’t think I would have found the courage to go down otherwise. I was in tears when I got outside, I felt like I would lose my home.
“I saw a neighbour who stood with me for hours with a policeman to ensure I was OK, before they moved us all to hotels.”
Drones were used by Dubai Civil Defence to help extinguish flames by spotting which way the fire was moving up the building.
A camera on Ms Hellyer's door, linked to her mobile phone, has enabled her to watch the progress of the fire and the clean-up effort.
She said it took crews about two hours to extinguish flames, although the recovery operation is likely to continue for days.
The building has a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
Each floor has 10 apartments. Witnesses said the fire broke out on the fourth floor, and then rapidly spread to the cladding attached to the outside of the tower.
Debris showered the ground below but had been mainly cleared by mid-morning on Monday.
Buses arrived at around 6am to take residents to hotels where they will stay until it is safe to return.
“The building was pretty much full, and we were all at home,” said Ms Hellyer.
“I left with almost nothing, just my wallet and asthma medication.
‘I was scared I would not be able to carry anything else down with me. I could see from my camera that the firemen checked every apartment and they are still cleaning up.
“On my floor there is a young family with two young toddlers.
“Thankfully everyone got out OK, but some of them left in a panic and left their pets behind.”
Clean-up under way
Building owners Emaar said the clean-up was ongoing and residents would only be allowed in once the building was made safe.
“It is with deep regret that we share the news of the unfortunate fire incident at 8 Boulevard Walk in Downtown Dubai earlier this morning,” Emaar said.
“As fire and rescue authorities continue to be on site, the building remains to be under their control.
“An extensive clean-up of the debris and damage is under way. A thorough investigation is under way to establish the cause and extent of the damage to the property, caused by the fire.
“In the meantime, we await the Dubai Civil Defence clearance for residents to access their apartments.
“You will be informed as soon as we have received the clearance, transportation will be arranged for all residents put up in hotels to return to 8 Boulevard Walk.
“Please be assured our teams are working continuously to restore normality for all residents in the tower.”