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Dubai police say New Year’s fire caused by electrical short

Dubai's police chief said no flammable liquids such as petrol played a role in the blaze

(Reuters) – The fire which engulfed one of Dubai‘s most prominent skyscrapers ahead of New Year fireworks was caused by an electrical short, Dubai‘s police chief said on Wednesday.

Khamis Mattar Al-Mazeina added that no flammable liquids such as petrol played a role in the blaze.

A fire engulfed the 63-storey hotel-cum-residential block, but with the building evacuated and only minor injuries reported, authorities went ahead with a New Year’s fireworks display at the world’s tallest building a few hundred metres away.

Flames shot skywards from one side of the luxury Address Downtown Dubai, owned by developer Emaar Properties which stands across a plaza from the 160-storey Burj Khalifa tower where people had gathered for the fireworks show.

Television pictures showed pieces of blazing debris raining down from The Address as evacuated occupants hurried away from the building, some running.

Emaar said on Jan. 3 the fire should have “no material impact” on the company because the building and risk of fire were covered by its insurance.

The company also said it had hired a local contractor, Dubai-based DUTCO Group, as a contractor to clear and restore the building.

Experts have asked whether cladding layers fixed to the outside of buildings for decoration, insulation or protection may in some cases make them more vulnerable to fire. (Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Writing by Noah Browning Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)