society

Torch Tower residents allowed back into their apartments

Police officers and building staff facilitate the return of the residents to their apartments on floors 6 to 28

18:36 August 7, 2017

Dubai: Many residents of the Torch Tower on Monday were allowed to move back into their apartments. The tower caught fire over the weekend.

“Dubai Police have now provided clearance for residents living on floors 6 to 28 inclusive to return to the their apartments,” read a letter from the building’s management on Monday. The tower has 87 floors.

Police officers and building staff will facilitate the return of the residents until 9pm on Monday and then from 9am onwards on Tuesday.

Tenants have been asked to check out of their hotels in which they had been staying since the fire started. Free hotel stays had been provided by Dubai authorities and building’s management firm.

Dubai Police said earlier that initial investigation into fire has been completed and Dubai Municipality is checking the lifts and electricity before allowing residents to return to their apartments.

The cause of the fire has not yet been revealed by Dubai Police.

In safe hands

One thing many residents recall about the night of the tower fire is the Dubai authorities’ efforts to handle the situation and calm frayed nerves.

Many residents were in a state of shock and panic after they were suddenly asked to evacuate the building just after midnight on Friday.

Recalling what he described as a “scary” night, Jawad Kamal, a tenant who was not in his apartment, said he felt “blessed to be a Dubai resident” as he realised he was “in safe hands”.

Arriving at the scene with his wife and son after friends alerted him of the situation, Kamal said people were being evacuated as debris was falling from the middle floors of the building on to the sandy car park and the roads below.

“People were panicking and some were crying, but police and other authorities were very gentle. They tried their best to calm everyone and even distributed water. They evacuated the building and put out the fire very quickly and handled the situation professionally,” Kamal said.

Rushing home with the hope of accessing his apartment to take some of his valuables including his passport, Kamal said he was pleased to find out his apartment was not impacted by the fire.

“I am an engineer so I noticed the fire authorities were using very modern and technologically advanced equipment to put out the fire. I really appreciate their efforts,” Kamal told Gulf News.

Along with other residents, Kamal and his family have been put up in Tamani Marina Hotel until further notice, while other residents have been placed in Media One Hotel.

British resident Victoria Lewis, said that she and her friend took around 15 minutes to evacuate the building from the 58th floor.

“I was in bed when the alarm went off and I thought it was a false alarm, until I realised it wasn’t three minutes later, and that I had to run down the stairs,” said Lewis.

She had feared the fire had engulfed the lower floors preventing residents from evacuating, but was glad to be standing outside on the road a short while later.

“As more people started heading to the staircase, panic started to rise as well. There were two sets of staircases, which helped with the evacuation. I was running so fast, I still cant walk properly today,” she said.

Another Torch resident, Gabriella S. from Brazil, said she and her husband were getting ready for bed when the alarm and sirens went off.

Having only lived in the building for six months, she described the night as a “terrible experience,” but was pleased with how authorities handled the situation.

“We were lucky that our apartment on floor 26 wasn’t affected, but it has been very inconvenient for my husband who has to go back and forth to get clothes for work,” she said.