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LONDON — Friday’s fire at Dubai’s 86-story tallest residential tower raises new concerns that metal and plastic exterior coverings used widely around the world pose a huge safety risk. 

 

Even before the Dubai blaze broke out and engulfed more than 40 floors, officials across the globe were inspecting high-rises that use external coverings, or cladding — common on apartment buildings, schools, offices and hospitals.

The initial checks were prompted by the fatal London fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14 that killed at least 80 people. The inferno caused property owners and fire inspectors in numerous countries to check plastic insulation and aluminum panels used on the outside of buildings to determine if they need to be replaced.

The cause of the Dubai fire was not immediately known, but similar Dubai blazes in the past have been linked to the highly flammable building cladding. It was the second major fire in the 1,100-foot Torch Tower in less than three years. Several people were treated for smoke inhalation, Gulf News reported.

Fires have affected several skyscrapers in recent years in the United Arab Emirates — where Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast — including a towering inferno that engulfed a 63-story luxury hotel in Dubai on New Year’s Eve in 2016.

More: Highly flammable cladding eyed as possible culprit in Dubai skyscraper inferno

After the London fire, authorities in the western German city of Wuppertal evacuated an 11-story apartment building because its insulation was found to be flammable. In Australia, at least 2,700 buildings in New South Wales were scheduled to remove cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower, local media reported.

Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank decided to replace cladding on its new headquarters because of safety concerns. The United Arab Emirate’s fire safety and life protection code was recently revised after numerous building fires fueled by flammable cladding in recent years, Gulf Business reported. 

While…