Smoke billows from the Address Downtown hotel near the Burj Khalifa.

A huge fire which engulfed part of a luxury hotel in Dubai, near where revellers had gathered to watch a New Year’s Eve fireworks display, has been brought under control without any fatalities.

The inferno lit up the side of the Address Downtown hotel near the centre of the city, scattering bystanders and shoppers in a nearby mall.

The Dubai government said one person had a heart attack as a result of the smoke and the rush to get out of the building. One person was described as being moderately injured and 16 people were said to have suffered minor injuries.

A large fireworks display later went ahead at the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, in front of tens of thousands of people while plumes of smoke continued to billow from the nearby fire.

It took four hours for firefighters to put out the fire.

Smoke spreads across Dubai from the hotel fire.
Smoke spreads across Dubai from the hotel fire. Photograph: Nicolas Cornet/EPA

Maj Gen Rashed al-Matrushi, general director of the Dubai civil defence, reportedly told the television channel Al Arabiya earlier: “There are no injuries, thank God … Of course, it will not affect the celebration.”

The Dubai police said the blaze started on the 20th floor of the building, which is also a residential address. Footage taken by witnesses and uploaded to the internet shows huge flames rapidly climbing the hotel’s exterior from what appeared to be a terrace or balcony.

The flames appeared to have soared to near the top of the building within seconds. More than an hour after the fire started, it still appeared to be out of control.

— Adam

Burning debris rained down from the building as fire engines raced to the scene.

Witnesses said hotel staff and fire crews had evacuated all guests. The evacuation was aided by the fact that the blaze did not immediately penetrate the building, the flames instead feeding off the the outside of the 63-storey structure.

Survivors of the blaze said they were ushered out via fire stairs. “We were immediately shown where to leave,” said David Moran, a Dubai-based businessman who was dining in the hotel. “They were very good. They knew their jobs and people escaped without panic.”

Another witness told Dubai television of a crush to get out once guests realised the extent of the blaze. “They evacuated us into a shopping mall,” he said. “There were so many people running.”

Kenneth Flynn told Sky News about his escape from the burning building.

“We had some dinner at about nine o’clock or 8.45pm. We ordered one drink and my partner noticed something falling from the building. She said ‘What’s that?’ and I said ‘I don’t know but I’ll have a look’. By the time I walked out the whole building was just ablaze. It was unbelievable. By the time I came back in I had lost her because the whole place was in panic. People were crushing each other trying to get out and get down the stairwell.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, it was surreal.

“The heat was so intense outside it was unbelievable. Then it was panic stations. People started to panic, crushing each other trying to get downstairs and jumping over railings.

“I couldn’t believe how fast it actually happened. And you know what? There was actually no fire alarm. I could hear no fire alarm going off.”

Asked how people reacted, he said: “The problem was with human error and panic. Everyone was beginning to panic. I am not going to say I didn’t panic myself. I was absolutely terrified to be honest. The heat was unbelievable. Especially when I lost her [his partner] for a few minutes but I managed to find her and we got out.”

The hotel stands on a boulevard in downtown Dubai near the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall. The area is one of the sites for the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display, which is one of the largest in the world.

Last year, Dubai broke the world record for the largest fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, releasing 479,651 shells during the midnight pyrotechnic show.

Dubai’s glittering skyline has seen two similar fires in recent years. Many of the city’s buildings have floors well out of reach of conventional firefighting equipment and rely on advanced sprinkler systems and other fire retardants.


[Source:-the gurdian]

By Adam