Authorities in Dubai Bringing Massive Hotel Fire Under Control

Everyone has been evacuated from a Dubai luxury hotel that is still burning after becoming engulfed in flames late Thursday.The city’s police chief, General Khamis Matar al-Mzeima, says all residents are out of the 63-story hotel, known as The Address.

Authorities also say they hope to have the massive blaze under control by the time fireworks begin at midnight local time; it is now 90 percent contained.

The hotel had been packed with New Year’s Eve revelers when fire broke out at about 9:30 p.m. (about 1730 UTC).  At least 14 people were injured.

 The hotel stands across from the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, which was not reported to be involved in the blaze.  The Burj Khalifa, more than 800 meters tall, was to have been the focal point of a spectacular fireworks display along the Dubai waterfront to usher in the New Year.  And officials say the display will go on as planned.

Flames quickly moved through more than 20 stories of the hotel, blazing brightly in the night and visible for kilometers in all directions.

This correspondent was dining near the scene of the inferno in central Dubai when the fast-moving fire broke out.

Within a half hour, flames had raced to the top of the hotel tower and the sky was full of thick black smoke.  Pieces of burning wreckage fell to the ground from the tower.
Witnesses said tens of thousands of people were crowded into the downtown area near the blazing hotel and the Burj Khalifa.

The hotel, a favorite for international celebrities and wealthy travelers, would have been packed on Thursday because it is an ideal location for viewing the fireworks display.

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates said earlier Thursday that thousands of security personnel were on duty to safeguard conditions during the New Year’s festivities.

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