Fire devastates Dubai's 336-metre Torch skyscraper

News: residents of one of the tallest residential skyscrapers in the world have been gradually returning to their homes after a fire that caused more than a thousand people to be evacuated.

The fire broke out early Saturday morning on the 50th floor of the 79-storey Torch in Dubai – a 336-metre-high skyscraper by Dubai studio Khatib & Alami that held the title of world's tallest residential building when it was completed in 2011.

The blaze was extinguished by firefighters at approximately 4am, just two hours after the outbreak, and many residents were allowed back into the building later that evening.

"Although the incredibly strong winds fanned the fire, the building's fire safety systems and evacuation protocols worked as planned," said a statement from Select Group, the developer behind the tower. "The fire was swiftly brought under control."

"Representatives of Select Group were present on site since news of the incident broke out in the early hours of the morning. The first concern was providing any support required to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the residents and their families."

Torch skyscraper in Dubai
The Torch in November 2014. Photograph by Guilhem Vellut, Wikimedia Commons

Witnesses claimed that chunks of metal and glass could be seen raining down from above. Traffic in the area had to be diverted and residents of two other nearby buildings were also evacuated.

The exact cause of the fire is as yet unknown and under investigation by Dubai Civil Defence. A total of 20 apartments are believed to have been affected, across ten floors. No major casualties were reported.

"All residents were successfully evacuated from the building and all fire safety systems functioned effectively during the incident thereby restricting fire damage to the exterior of the building," said building management company Kingfield Owner Association Management Services.

"The main focus at this time is to ensure that all residents are safe and looked after while we also assist in arrangements for alternative accommodation for those whose apartments have been affected," it said.

Fire devastates Dubai's 336-metre Torch skyscraper
Image of the fire by Twitter user @RaMiAlGaDi

Located in Dubai Marina, The Torch was briefly the world's tallest residential building, but was overtaken the following year by three other Dubai structures – the 414-metre Princess Tower, the 392-metre 23 Marina and the 381-metre Elite Residence.

All four have also now been surpassed by the Rafael Viñoly-designed 432 Park Avenue in New York, set to officially claim the title when it completes later this year.

Dubai studio Khatib & Alami previously also worked with SOM on the twisted Cayan Tower nearby.

Main image is by Warren Little/Getty Images.