Residents flee blaze in Dubai Marina tower block

"There was glass exploding, debris falling. It was a mess, really frightening," said resident Ezio Patrizi

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Dozens of residents fled for their lives after a fire broke out in Dubai Marina on Sunday.

The blaze started at Zen Tower at 10.44am but spread quickly due to dust storm conditions, as high winds fanned flames up and down the building.

It took fire crews 45 minutes  to put out the blaze, according to witnesses.

Residents took shelter in restaurants and neighbouring buildings and were given water by local businesses. Some wore face masks but the smoke and dust left many coughing and with irritated, watery eyes.

The fire in the 15-storey tower, at the far edge of the marina on the Jebel Ali side, forced traffic in surrounding streets to a standstill.

Major General Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, head of Dubai Civil Defence, said the fire started outside the building rather than inside an apartment, but did not specify whether that was on a balcony or elsewhere.

He said the first crews were on the scene within six minutes.

“No injuries or casualties were reported,” he said.

Resident Araf Mohammed, who lives on the fifth floor, told The National he ran down the fire escape when he smelt burning.

"When we came down [the stairs] and there was black smoke everywhere. There is damage but thankfully we got out early," he said.

Trident Tower was also evacuated and residents said they had feared the flames would spread.

Residents of Zen Tower taking shelter in Manchester Tower after being evacuated after the Zen Tower fire. Leslie Pableo for The National

Ezio Patrizi, who lives in Trident, said: "I saw black smoke coming from underneath the building and going up into the air. My daughter and I went outside the balcony and saw the smoke coming from the building and realised the tower [next to us] was on fire.

"Due to the sandstorm the fire spread really, really, really quickly from the ground floor up, in 30, 45 seconds.

"There was glass exploding, debris falling. It was a mess, really frightening.

"We were told to evacuate, of course we heard the sirens from the apartment. I ran down the stairs and alerted the other people.

"The building security were shouting 'come down, come down'.

The building is close to Sheikh Zayed Road on the Jebel Ali side of the marina just before the exit to Garn Al Sabkha street.

The Dubai Government Media Office said no injuries were reported but the building was evacuated. The fire was brought until control at about 11.45am.

By early afternoon, residents were taken to the Ghaya Grand Hotel in Dubai Sports City by bus.

Emily Seelochan, 24 from Trinidad, lives in the adjacent building to Zen Tower and was working from home when the fire broke out.

“My sister lives in Zen Tower and she called me to see if there was a fire in her building next door,” she said.

“I looked outside and could see this black smoke coming up from her building. Her place is in the fifth floor so it looks like her apartment was affected - it’s just lucky she was at work.

“When I got outside I could see it was a big fire and everyone was getting out.”

Hasan Siddiqui, 29, from the United States, lives on the 19th floor of Trident.

“I’m on the 19th floor in the penthouse and there was a lot of smoke coming into my apartment,” said Mr Siddiqui, who runs his own tech business.

“I left everything and just ran down the stairs as it was so windy we were worried the fire could spread.

“When we got downstairs I saw two cars explode, one was small and the other looked like a Pajero or something.

“They were parked right in front of Zen Tower, and behind them on the first floor there looked to be a propane tank of some kind.

“The tank blew up first and that went into the cars.

“I haven’t see anyone injured, just a dog that was running near the building with a limp, so he could have been hit by something.

“Another person nearby looked to be choking on the smoke, but that was it.

“The fire trucks came pretty quickly. Luckily I have insurance for my place, I have seven cars and two Jet Skis there.

“The wind was strong but it was blowing in the right direction, otherwise my building would have gone up for sure.”

Google's traffic maps showed the build-up of congestion in the marina as the emergency services cordoned off the area as the fire was dealt with.

Traffic in the Dubai Marina area at 12.15pm. Courtesy Google Maps

Additional reporting by Nick Webster


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