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Investigators search for clues for cause of Dubai Palm Jumeirah blaze

DUBAI // Experts are trying to determine the cause of a fire that swept through a Palm Jumeirah apartment block, leaving residents stranded and waiting to get back into their homes.

Pictures of the blaze in the Adriatic building, which is part of the upscale Oceana complex, flooded social media on Monday night, and Dubai Media Office said the building was safely evacuated and no major injuries were recorded.

The spread of the fire was aided by flammable exterior cladding, as has been the case in several incidents across the UAE in recent years.

Some residents, whose apartments were not directly affected by the fire, were waiting near the scene of the incident on Tuesday, while others were relocated to the Fairmont Palm Hotel and Resort.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said he was told to leave the building at 6.30pm, several hours before flames were visible on the island’s skyline.

Another, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he and his family were asked to leave the nearby Pacific building, which is part of the same complex, at about 7pm on Monday. “We were out and came home around 6pm when we realised that there was something going on but nothing was clear at that point,” he said. “We are now still waiting for the authorities to let us back in to the building.”

Dubai Civil Defence and Dubai Police were still at the scene on Tuesday and had cordoned the area, putting up a sign requesting that everyone, including residents, keep out.

However, members of the DCD were escorting residents that needed to enter their homes for urgent matters, such as retrieving medicine.

Pacific building residents were allowed to re-enter their homes late Tuesday afternoon, though Adriatic residents were only allowed temporary access to collect some items.

Monica Valdar, who was representing an owner of a number of apartments in the complex at an 11am briefing, said that most residents will be able to enter their apartments later on Tuesday.

“The Oceana management is being very cooperative and they are doing their very best to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” she said. “As I know, my director’s apartments did not sustain any damage but I am waiting to enter to inspect.”

Ms Valdar said authorities were allowing residents to enter the Adriatic building floor by floor on Tuesday afternoon.

“I went up to the fifth floor, and there isn’t any damage. Just the corridors still have water and there is the slight smell of smoke,” she said.

A statement from Asteco, which manages the building on behalf of developer Seven Tides, said: “It is believed that the fire started in a top floor penthouse apartment in the Adriatic building, which is one of seven buildings within the Oceana complex.

“When the alarm was raised, residents were evacuated. Dubai Civil Defence and other emergency services were onsite within minutes and by 1am had extinguished the blaze with no injuries being reported.

“At about 1.30am, after taking permission from Dubai Civil Defence, most residents were allowed to return to their apartments.

“Out of the seven buildings, only residents of Adriatic and the adjacent Pacific building could not return home and were hosted in nearby hotels.”

Maj Gen Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, director general of Dubai Civil Defence, said that preliminary investigations suggest the fire started on the roof and on the building’s external areas, according to Al Ittihad, The National’s Arabic sister newspaper.

He added that high winds contributed to the spread of the fire and that seven units from Karama, Al Quoz, and Al Hamriya stations took part in putting out the flames.

“They worked hand-in-hand with the Search and Rescue Department at Dubai Police, the ambulance units and other departments,” he said, adding that firefighters used new Wen 7 fire trucks that were bought after last New Year’s Eve blaze at the Address Downtown Dubai hotel.

An updated version of the UAE fire safety code was set to be released in April but authorities said sections were amended to add fire tests and material checks after the Address blaze, which made headlines around the world.

An updated 1,200-page English version of Life and Fire Safety is being translated into Arabic and will be released before the end of the year.

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The National