Coffee machine clue to Dubai fire which burned through building ‘like it was made of paper’
DUBAI // The fire that tore through a luxury Dubai apartment building is thought to have started in a coffee machine in a penthouse apartment, triggered by an electrical fault.
The blaze on Monday night in the Adriatic building at the Oceana complex on the Palm Jumeirah left hundreds homeless.
It started in the penthouse apartment of a British expatriate who owns other properties in the city.
A neighbour said: “I spoke to him when everyone was evacuated and he could barely get his words out. He said there was a fault with the electrics and the fire started from his coffee machine.
“We are all in shock. I have tried to go back to check on my apartment but there is still too much smoke and everything is dirty and covered in soot.”
Artist Marina Stoponje, who lives in the same building, was allowed back in to her home briefly on Wednesday to collect some possessions.
“I was just shocked as I watched how easily the building went up in fire,” she said. “I was at home at the time and the security staff were ringing all the doors.
“It was only then I saw the black smoke outside. I went to the West 14th bar and watched the fire from there in shock. The building went up in flames like it was made of paper. It spread very fast and was hard to see.
“I am lucky that my paintings and sculptures were not damaged. I have white marble sculptures which are covered in soot but hopefully they can be cleaned.”
Another resident said: “I was going to the gym in the next building at the time and the lifts were full of smoke. All the alarms were going off and the lifts were not working but I did not panic at that stage.”
The fire was initially brought under control, but a series of explosions then caused it to reignite and spread.
By 8.30pm, residents from the Adriatic and neighbouring buildings had been moved to the nearby Fairmont hotel.
The resident said: “There were still no flames visible from the outside at that stage but the whole place filled with smoke very quickly.
“Friends were sending me videos and pictures once it spread and said they heard explosions. I was in the hotel by then.”
Rents for one-bedroomed apartments in the block start from Dh140,000 a year.
On Wednesday, the outside of the seafront building was exposed and blackened with balconies and furniture covered in thick black soot. Residents are still waiting to hear when they can return to their homes. They were originally given a two-night stay in the Fairmont hotel but were expecting the stay to be extended.
Nearly one in five of the 193 fires in Dubai in 2014 were caused by electrical short circuits. There have since been a spate of fires in high-rise buildings, including the Torch and Sulafa Tower in Dubai Marina and the Address hotel fire on New Year’s Eve.
Most buildings erected before special regulations were introduced in 2012 have non-fire rated exterior cladding, with flammable materials sandwiched between aluminium panels, according to experts.
Samer Barakat, the chief executive of building contractors Alumco, told The National: “Two thirds of the buildings in Dubai are covered with aluminium composite panels that are not fire rated.”
Updated: December 14, 2016 04:00 AM