DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A fire raced up a high-rise tower in the United Arab Emirates city of Ajman late Monday, the latest in a series of skyscraper blazes in the Gulf nation that is home to the world’s tallest building.
Images shared on social media showed bright yellow flames spreading up the side of the building as chunks of burning material tumbled to the ground.
The Emirati interior minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, rushed to Ajman to help coordinate the response to the blaze, Ajman police said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Ajman is home to many commuters who work in the Gulf commercial hub of Dubai, further to the south. Like Dubai, it is one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE federation.
Police sealed off a major road near the tower snarling traffic. Hundreds of evacuated residents and onlookers crowded nearby to watch the building go up in flames.
The Dubai-based Gulf News newspaper quoted Ajman Civil Defense director Brig. Saleh Saeed al-Matroushi as saying firefighters were at the scene working to put out the fire. A civil defense official reached by The Asscoiated Press confirmed that firefighting efforts were ongoing late into the night but had no further details.
The blaze comes less than three months after a massive fire raced up the exterior of the 63-story The Address Downtown Dubai, one of Dubai’s most prominent hotels. It is situated next to Dubai’s biggest mall and the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.
Similar fires have struck other high-rises built since the turn of this century in Dubai and Sharjah, which sits between Dubai and Ajman.
Building and safety experts have attributed the spate of fires to a material commonly used to cover the buildings known as aluminum composite panel cladding. Some panels used in buildings in the Emirates contain a flammable core that can burn rapidly one ignited, allowing fires to spread quickly on buildings covered top to bottom with the panels without sufficient fire breaks along the way.
It was not immediately clear if the skyscraper in the Ajman fire had that type of cladding, but images posted on social media appeared to show the fire burning in a similar fashion.