Major fire erupts in deluxe skyscraper hotel in Dubai

New Year’s Eve fireworks display proceeds in city despite continuing blaze

A 63-storey skyscraper in downtown Dubai engulfed by fire on Thursday night has been evacuated and the blaze is 90 per cent under control, authorities in the Gulf emirate have said.

Fire broke out in the building in downtown Dubai near the world’s tallest building late on Thursday, but the block was successfully evacuated and there were only light injuries, the emirate’s police chief said.

Tongues of flame shot skywards from one side of the luxury Address Downtown Dubai hotel and residential block, which stands across a plaza from the 830-metre Burj Khalifa tower where people were gathering for a spectacular fireworks display due to mark the start of the new year.

Television pictures showed pieces of blazing debris raining down from the building.

Terrorism ‘ruled out’

While the exact cause of the fire is not yet known, investigators have ruled out terrorism, Dubai’s Gen Khamis Matar Al Muzainah told Bloomberg by telephone.

The Dubai government's media office said late on Thursday evening the blaze was 90 per cent under control. Police chief Major General Khamis Matar told Al Arabiya television: "All residents of the hotel were evacuated and there are 14 injured, with light injuries."

A medic on the scene who declined to be identified told Reuters: “There are more than 60 people injured with light injuries from smoke inhalation and from crowding while in the stairs evacuating the building.”

One resident staying on the 15th floor of the tower, completed in 2008, told Sky News of “absolute pandemonium” as those inside realised the building was ablaze.

“The alarms went off when the building was already properly on fire,” he said.

Maj Gen Rashed al-Matrushi, general director of the Dubai Civil Defence, told the pan-Arab television channel Al Arabiya that the Burj Khalifa festivities would go ahead despite the fire, saying: “Of course, it will not affect the celebration.”

Fireworks display

Live television pictures showed the fireworks display proceeding as planned.

A Reuters correspondent saw police evacuating a viewing area near the base of the Burj Khalifa, where tourists and Dubai residents were set to enjoy one of the world’s largest pyrotechnic displays to usher in 2016.

The Dubai government’s media office said the blaze had started on the 20th floor, on the outside of the 300-metre tower. Four fire brigade teams were at the site.

Dubai is a trade, tourism and investment hub for the Gulf region, and is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The 160-storey Burj Khalifa tower opened in 2010 and stands almost 830 metres (2,722 feet) tall.