Ajman Skyscraper Fire Extinguished - Why Are High-Rise Towers In Middle East Suddenly Catching Fire?

Ajman Skyscraper Fire Extinguished, But Raises Questions About Infernos In Middle Eastern High-Rise Towers

The fire that engulfed a skyscraper in Ajman, a prominent residential city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was successfully brought under control by firefighters who worked through the night. However, the fire raced up a high-rise tower and then engulfed a few other neighboring buildings, causing extensive damage to the structures and destroyed several residential complexes housed within. This fire is the latest in the series of skyscraper blazes in the Middle East, and safety experts are concerned such incidents could easily happen again.

A fire quickly rose in one of the several skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates city of Ajman. The fire broke out late Monday and quickly climbed several stories. Then, fueled by the winds, the skyscraper inferno manifested itself in bright yellow flames that lit up the night sky. The flames could be seen emerging from the high-rise building.

Even the steadily falling chunks of burning material weren’t a strong enough deterrent for the people who were witnessing the event from ground level. Risking falling debris, many onlookers quickly whisked out their smartphones and clicked several photos of the skyscraper fire, which was already threatening neighboring buildings. Many of the photos posted on social media clearly show the flames spreading up the side of the skyscraper, trying to reach the adjacent buildings.

By the time firefighters were battling the skyscraper fire, it had already spread to two other residential towers. However, bravely working through the night, the firefighters managed to subdue the fire completely, reported Associated Press. By early Tuesday morning, civil defense workers were seen spraying water to cool down any remaining embers at the Ajman One development, reported Corvallis Gazette-Times.

While an investigation is likely to be conducted, preliminary reports indicate the fire may have started at around 9 p.m. on Monday at Tower No. 8 in the complex. Thereafter, it spread in the high-rise, before targeting Tower No. 6. It seems strong winds were responsible for blowing burning debris towards the neighboring towers. It is not yet clear what started the fire as neither civil defense officials, nor Aqaar Properties, the developer of the complex, have offered any comment.

The residential complex in Ajman was developed at the cost of $720 million and includes a dozen residential towers. The city is quite important for people who work in the Gulf commercial hub of Dubai. The city is home to several professionals who make the daily commute to Dubai.

After the news of the skyscraper fire in Ajman broke out, the Emirati interior minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, reached the location to help coordinate the response to the blaze, confirmed the city’s police. Additionally, according to the state-run WAM Emirates News Agency, Ajman’s ruler, Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, too, visited the complex and publicly admired the efforts of the firefighters. He also ordered the concerned authorities to ensure accommodation was offered to the people who lost their homes to the skyscraper fire. The people should be accommodated till they can make an alternate arrangement for their housing, he instructed.

The fire in the Ajman’s skyscraper comes less than three months after a similar inferno caused substantial damage to the 63-story The Address Downtown Dubai, one of Dubai’s most prominent hotels that’s located near Dubai’s biggest mall as well the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa.

Safety experts indicate that such fires could easily happen again. While no one is sure what causes these fires, the majority suspects the fires spread rapidly because of a material commonly used to cover the buildings. The aluminum composite panel cladding is known to contain a core that’s highly flammable and burns rapidly if ignited. Since the panel covers the entire exterior of the skyscraper, the fires spread and aren’t hindered by “fire breaks,” features that pose a hurdle to an inferno.

While it isn’t immediately clear if the skyscraper in the Ajman fire had a similar type of cladding, images on social media showed flames that spread in a strikingly similar manner.

[Photo by YouTube Screen Grab]