Weren’t we were taught on 9/11 that when a steel-frame office building catches fire, the fire will burn hot enough to melt steel girders? And when that happens, will not the building collapse neatly into its own footprint? Isn’t that the only likely result, and wasn’t that pretty much the essence of the NIST report on the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7?
So how in the heck do we explain what happened Wednesday in Dubai where the 75-story Sulafa Tower caught fire and burned for three hours–but yet did not collapse? That’s a tough one. I really can’t figure it out!
Rattled Residents Revisit Sulafa Tower
Tenants of Dubai Marina Skyscraper That Caught Fire Allowed to Check Flats and Recover Belongings
July 22, 2016
Dubai: Anxious residents of Dubai Marina’s Sulafa Tower, which caught fire on Wednesday afternoon, were on Thursday allowed back in to check any damage to their flats and collect belongings.
The fire, the cause of which is still under investigation, appears to have damaged the exterior of a number of flats, balconies, as well as the building’s facade. Three people suffered minor injuries, Dubai Police said.
An official from the building management denied reports in some sections of the media claiming that the management had said the fire in the 75-storey residential tower was caused by a cigarette butt. The official, who did not want to be named, told Gulf News that the cause of the fire will be made known from official sources after investigations.
“We have no information regarding the cause at the moment and it will come from authorities. We haven’t declared anything related to this,” he said.
“The building is operational. Everyone can access their flats. Residents who were not affected can return to their flats and live there. Those who were affected can access their flats to assess the damage. Everyone’s situation will be different, so the procedure for them will be different. Some are homeowners, some are tenants. There are multiple dimensions and entities involved in this — from authorities to insurance. It is not a small issue.”
Abbas L., an Arab tenant of floor 12, which was unaffected, said he was allowed to move back in but asked to not clean up.
“How can the management say it’s OK to live there when the air from the ventilation system is still unbreathable? It’s a health hazard and they could be liable if there are consequent health problems. I have been asked not to clean up until the site is checked for insurance purposes. So how can I live there?” he asked.
Earlier, Gulf News had repeatedly tried to contact Al Sayyah and Sons Investment Co., which lists Sulafa Tower as one of its projects on its website. One representative said no one was available to comment on Thursday.
According to a notice to tower owners and tenants, emailed on Thursday by Sulafa Tower Management/Owners Union, the “insurance policy provides cover for individual owners and interested parties for their respective rights and interests”.
It added: “There is a limited cover for alternative accommodation but this is specifically for owner occupiers only, the limit is Dh600 per day to a maximum of 21 days.
“Individual tenants if they hold personal cover should submit the claims under their own policy which will normally provide cover for alternative accommodation. There is also cover for owner loss of rent to a maximum of three months.”
The notice said, “We will keep you updated”.
Following the inferno, some Dubai hotels, and even ordinary residents, offered temporary shelter and refreshments to affected tenants, while others stayed at families’ or friends’ homes.
The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina opened its doors to people seeking overnight refuge.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the hotel told Gulf News that 100-130 people were provided with food, beverages and basic necessities, including nappies, until they could find alternative accommodation.
“Many people left the hotel today [Thursday] to get an update on the situation and if they could be let back into their apartments. As of today [Thursday morning], there were 25-35 people left,” said the spokesperson.
“Many people left to make arrangements with family and friends. Over the weekend, our doors will continue to be open and we will provide temporarily shelter to those who still need to find an alternative accommodation.
“During their stay, they will continue to be provided with rollaway beds and other facilities.”
The tower’s management was also reported to have arranged stay for a number of affected residents at the Tamani and Gloria hotels.
Everyday people swung into action as well. Resident Leonie Pitts posted on her Twitter handle (@leonieash) on Wednesday after the fire: “I can smell it from The Lakes. We have a spare room if anyone in need for the night?”
Meanwhile, @HamptonsUAE tweeted: “Offering assistance and help to Sulafa Residents directly affected by the unfortunate event this week”.
I’m happy for the residents of Sulafa Tower. Most of them apparently will be returning to their apartments. Too bad things didn’t work out that way for the tenants of Building 7. Just their bad luck, I guess.