DUBAI – A massive fire broke out Thursday night at the high-end Address hotel in downtown Dubai, the government of the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city said.
Video showed orange tentacles of flames swirling up the outside of several stories at the high-rise hotel’s midsection.
As many as four crews of firefighters are battling the blaze, the government said. Early reports from Dubai authorities said the fire started on the 20th floor, perhaps a couple hours before a New Year’s Eve fireworks display was to have started over the city.
The Address hotel describes itself as “the premier five-star hotel” in Dubai. It stands near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.
Jaqueline Hurtado, a CNN en Español correspondent, said she was at a restaurant in the area when she heard an explosion, “like a loud pop,” and thought the fireworks display may have started early. Then she noticed flames.
Then she and others noticed flames at the hotel, and she and others were evacuated from the area.
“That fire was big. The fire was just going so fast,” she said. “It just started burning real quick.”
Dubai resident Joseph Tobing said he was waiting for the fireworks when the fire started around 9:30 p.m. Tobing said the fire became”massive” and didn’t appear to be under control.
Maha Abouelnebin, who lives in Dubai, told CNN she was with her family having dinner in the hotel. She saw what appeared to be a low flame and thought maybe someone was cooking something.
Then she said she realized, “Oh my God … that’s a fire. … We decided we needed to get out of there.”
She said that staff were very efficient in moving people out of the hotel. “They got us out calmly… quickly. We were impressed with how easy we got out of there.”
Some people were at the hotel to watch New Year’s fireworks that were scheduled for around midnight.
Information on whether anyone was injured wasn’t immediately available.
The fire broke out as governments around the world were on high alert for possible terrorist attacks tied to New Year’s Eve celebrations, but there was no immediate indication that terrorism was to blame for the blaze.
Jonathan Gilliam, a CNN law-enforcement analyst, said he was surprised by how fast the fire spread, quickly engulfing several floors and illuminating the night sky.
“This is looking absolutely horrific,” he said. “This is spreading very rapidly.”
On its website, the hotel says that its “spacious and bright rooms offer a dynamic sense of style and a striking design that appeals to all tastes across the international travel market.”
“Dubai’s social scene happens here from our stylish rooms to our unique choice of modern outlets, ideal for everything from a social cup of coffee to our fabulous brunches, exquisite dinners and the best late night venues,” the hotel website says.