World MIDDLE EAST

Dubai Torch Tower: Fire rips through apartment skyscraper

One of the world's tallest residential towers caught fire early Saturday in Dubai's Marina district, sending bright yellow flames several stories high, but there were no reports of casualties, civil defense officials said.

The fire broke out at about 2 a.m. in the 86-story Torch tower on the northeastern end of the densely populated district, which is packed with multi-story skyscrapers. Debris from the fire cluttered nearby streets after the blaze appeared to be extinguished. High winds whipped through the area.

The civil defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were no reports of deaths or injuries.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

Police blocked off areas around the building, which still had power. Lights were on in many of the apartments inside. Multiple fire trucks and police vehicles were on the scene.

Residents of at least one neighboring tower were told to evacuate as a precaution because of strong winds, but they were later allowed back inside.

The Marina area is home to dozens of towering apartment blocks and hotels, many of them built over the past decade. The apartments are popular with Dubai's large number of expatriate professionals.

Two residents said they were told the fire started around the 52nd floor. Flaming material falling from the initial fire then set a lower part of the building ablaze, they said.

One of the residents, Steve Short, 53, of Liverpool, England, praised the work of firefighters who arrived quickly. He said fire alarms alerted residents to the blaze and building management sent workers knocking on doors to ensure residents got out.

The Torch opened in 2011 and is one of the world's tallest residential towers, according to developer Select Group.

Resident R.J. Morlock, 33, of Houston, shot video on his phone that showed bright yellow flames reaching what appeared to be several stories on two separate parts of the building. He said residents were nervous coming out but fire crews were able to bring the situation under control.

“I was really surprised they got it under control pretty quickly. It looked like it was going to go up,” he said.

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