Residents of burnt Dubai tower remain clueless

November 19, 2012

Residents say they remain confused and anxious 24 hours after a massive fire ripped through a residential building in Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), displacing hundreds.

Around 200 displaced residents - some in their pyjamas - are still waiting in front of Tamweel Tower, which caught fire in the early hours of Sunday, awaiting a response from the authorities on how to proceed.

[Watch the video of Tamweel tower on fire]

“Nobody knows what is happening. Police and civil defence authorities are on the site but are not talking to anybody. Until now only a few people have been  allowed to go in and take their valuables,” Ryan Luis a resident who lives on the 14th floor of the building told Yahoo! Maktoob.

More than 300 people were evacuated from the 34-storey building during the blaze, which parts of the building badly damaged. Many of the residents including Luis have been provided with temporary accommodation in a nearby hotel. But Luis said he and others are worried about valuable possessions and important documents left in apartments.

[See photos from the blaze here]

“I have been waiting here for so long. I’m not sure whether my documents are intact. It’s going to be terrible if my passport is damaged as I have to make a few trips soon,” Luis said.

Resident Graham Petty said: “The whole of yesterday we stood here without being told anything. Nobody has spoke to us on how to proceed. My passport, banking documents, insurance papers and cash are inside the apartment. The officials should communicate with us and let us go in.”

UAE Islamic finance provider Tamweel said on Sunday it remained committed to “ensuring the well-being” of residents affected by ‘a major blaze at one of its Dubai towers’.

“Our staff are on site and have provided transportation and hotel accommodation to any resident who requires such assistance,” the statement read.

“We are working closely with Civil Defence officials, and will continue to provide such updates as and when appropriate.”

The JLT district is a popular residential area consisting of 78 towers housing an estimated 60,000 residents.

Cladding prompted fire

It is thought highly flammable cladding might have triggered the blaze, according to a report by UAE daily The National claims.

"The fire appears to have started on or near the crown at the top of the building, which was covered in this cladding," Sandy Dweik of Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants, was quoted as saying.
"The fire then spread down to the cladding, which is installed in strips running down the side of the building. The cladding acted as a fuel and this resulted in the damage we have seen,” she added.