DUBAI // Around 130 residents of Sulafa Tower took shelter at a nearby hotel after their apartments were damaged or destroyed in Wednesday’s fire.
A blaze broke out in the 75-storey tower in Dubai Marina on Wednesday afternoon, spreading quickly around the residential building and damaging apartments on at least eight floors.
Management at the nearby Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina tweeted an offer of accommodation, with 100 to 130 affected residents making the walk across Al Sufouh Road after Civil Defence teams prevented them from returning to their homes while they made sure the tower was safe.
To anyone affected by the #Sulafa tower fire, we are opening up The Westin ballroom should you need temporary shelter and refreshments.
— The Westin Dubai (@WestinDXBMina) July 20, 2016
“We had between 100 130 through the day and night in the ballroom, where we set up roll-away beds,” said Nazlee Tayob, assistant director of marketing – Mina Seyahi Complex. “Most people left on Thursday morning, going to the houses of family or friends.”
Around 25-30 people are still at the hotel, said Ms Tayob, adding that staff provided access to showers, toiletries, and nappies for infants. They also brought in entertainers to keep youngsters happy.
“We will help them for as long as we need to,” she said. “We even had people come with dogs and cats, which we also welcomed. We could not turn them away in such desperate situations.”
Dubai Civil Defence said the fire was reported at 2.48pm on Wednesday. No one was injured. Some residents were allowed to return to their homes on Thursday morning.
Sandra Merhi, from Lebanon, lived on the 67th floor. She took a cab home from work when she heard about the fire.
“I tried to run into the building, but realised I wasn’t going to get far with the smoke. They didn’t let me in anyway, and there was no point.
“We waited downstairs as the fire department did an excellent job to put out the fire.”
The blaze started on the 60th floor and spread up to the 70th. Falling debris and high winds fanned the flames around the sides of the building to the 30-35th floors and up to 60th.
“My flat is on the opposite side [of where the fire was]. We know all the apartments that end with the numbers 09,02, 01 were damaged from 60 to 70. I am 04,” said Ms Merhi, who is staying in a hotel after being allowed back to collect her tow cats.
“No one is advised to stay in the building and there’s no elevators anyway. I don’t believe anyone would move back in. People can go to their apartments if they show their IDs, but they have to take the stairs. It smells really bad,” she said.
“I’m paying for the hotel but I heard there might be some sort of reimbursement or partial reimbursement. I don’t have details yet.”
Ms Merhi is staying at the nearby Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, which has offered residents affected by the blaze a reduced rate for rooms.
“The hotel has been very helpful, and offered us refreshments and a lounge to relax. They also gave us special rates, which is nice considering it is high season. They also let me keep my cats with me.”
(via The National)