Some 20 floors of the 63-story The Address hotel, a five-star establishment in Dubai not far from the landmark Burj Khalifa tower, have been engulfed in flames. Spectacular images quickly appeared on social media:
— Laila Loves (@LailaBlogs) December 31, 2015
— Tim Williams (@realtimwilliams) December 31, 2015
More video from the Associated Press:
According to Reuters, a fireworks display was set to begin shortly at the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest building. The cause of the Address Hotel fire is not yet clear.
Gulf News relays assurances from Dubai Civil Defense that “three teams are battling the flames, and they almost have it under control.” The hotel has reportedly been evacuated, while the New Year’s Eve celebration in the Burj Khalifa square is apparently still on schedule to proceed.
Despite these assurances from the Dubai government, RT.com notes social media users describing the situation as “horrific” and reporting people running away in a “panic.”
Update, 1:45 pm EST: According to the Dubai government, the fire began on the 20th floor, on the exterior of the building.
The massive hotel is nearly a thousand feet tall, boasts 196 rooms plus 626 apartments, and cost over $230 million to build.
CNN quotes an American in Dubai saying the hotel fire “spread within seconds.” There are conflicting reports about whether or not the hotel has been completely evacuated, but so far there have been no reported injuries.
Update, 1:55 pm EST: ABC News reports the Dubai Civil Defense General insists the evening fireworks display will continue as planned. It is billed as “bigger than ever” for 2015, with a “20-minute domino-effect fireworks display shooting the entire length of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper.” That seems like a questionable decision, given that the sixth-largest building in the world is engulfed in flames nearby.
Update, 2:05pm EST: Although onlookers say it looks like the burning hotel is “completely gone,” the UK Telegraph reports the fire is mostly outside the building, and “internal fire-fighting systems are operating to try to prevent it getting inside the hotel.”
AFP reports the Dubai police chief saying that all residents have been safely evacuated from the hotel.