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High-rise tower catches fire in Emirati city of Sharjah

(Associated Press) - October 1, 2015 - 7:25am

DUBAI — A fire broke out Thursday on a high-rise tower in the Emirati city of Sharjah, sending thick smoke billowing over the city and snarling traffic as commuters headed home at the end of the local work week.

The blaze was the latest in a string of dramatic fires that have raced up the facades of skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates in recent years, posing a challenge for firefighters and raising concerns about fire safety in the rapidly developing Gulf nation.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from Thursday's fire. The Sharjah civil defense directorate, whose fire crews were battling the blaze, had no immediate comment.

The densely populated city of Sharjah sits immediately adjacent to Dubai, the booming commercial hub of the region. It is home to hundreds of thousands of expatriate families and migrant workers, many of whom commute daily south into Dubai.

Photos posted on social media showed thick smoke billowing from the fire as it licked up several stories of the tower's facade. It did not appear that the fire spread deep inside the building.

Fires have affected several skyscrapers in the Emirates, including a February blaze that broke out at Dubai's 86-story Torch tower, one of the world's tallest residential towers. There were no major casualties in that fire.

BILLOWING BLAZE BROKE CASUALTIES CITY DUBAI EMIRATI FIRE SHARJAH TOWER UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
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