DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, A blaze erupted Thursday at a five-star hotel tower in Dubai, near where a major fireworks display was set to go off at midnight — lighting up the night sky as flames licked nearly the entire height of the skyscraper.
The fire started about 10 p.m. local time in a 63-story mixed hotel-residential tower called the Address, Downtown Dubai — which is across a small lake from Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
Government officials said the blaze started on the 20th floor, on the outside of the tower.
Video and images from the scene showed flames running up nearly the entire lengthof the tower and burning debris falling from the skyscraper.
Dubai’s official media office cited 14 minor injuries, one moderate injury and a heart attack “due [to] over-crowding and smoke at the fire site,” but officials indicated there were no serious injuries.
“There are no injuries, thank God … of course, it will not affect the celebration,” Major General Rashed al-Matrushi, general director of the Dubai Civil Defence, told a live newscast, Britain’s Telegraph reported.
The fireworks display went off at midnight, as scheduled.
“A fire has been reported in the Address Downtown hotel. Authorities are currently on-site to address the incident swiftly and safely,” the Dubai Media Office tweetedearlier, adding that at least four firefighting brigades responded to the blaze.
The tower, which houses 200 hotel rooms and 600 residential units, was immediately evacuated, as was the adjoining Dubai Waterfront.
“I saw the flames just as it started, and now it is out of hand,” witness Ahmad Al Bader, who was at the Burj Khalifa, told UAE’s The National. “I can’t see anything because of the smoke … It looks like it’s completely gone.”
“It’s gone from just a small fire at the foot of the building and now it’s shooting up the middle and the top,” another witness, Mohammed Al Sarraf, said. “It’s raging.”
Government officials promised the New Year’s Eve celebrations would go forward, which included three massive fireworks displays — one at the Burj Khalifa. The entire display reportedly involved 1.6 tons of pyrotechnics.
By Doug G. Ware