Fire engulfs 34-story tower

Rescue crews in Dubai safely evacuated a 34-story residential tower yesterday after a fire gutted portions of the building, police said.

The blaze charred the outside of the structure and sent grey smoke drifting over a major development known as Jumeirah Lakes Towers, a cluster of high-rise apartment buildings and shops on the southern edge of Dubai.

Residents, some wearing pyjamas and clutching passports and other belongings, stood on roadways watching flames pour from windows on high floors.

Pieces of fiery debris fell from the facade.

A statement from Dubai Police said the fire was brought under control and no casualties were reported.

The blaze, however, is likely to add to calls for greater fire safety and evacuation planning in the United Arab Emirates, where hundreds of thousands of people live in high-rise buildings.

In June, hundreds of residents were evacuated safely from a 76-story tower after a fire broke out on the 36th floor.

Last November, firefighters in Sharjah, north of Dubai, struggled to battle a blaze in a 25-story tower without equipment to reach the flames.

The UAE is considering bans on flammable panels in high-rise buildings.

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