Fire engulfed a 63-storey skyscraper in Dubai on Thursday night, but with the block evacuated and only minor injuries reported authorities went ahead with a New Year’s fireworks display at the world’s tallest building a few hundred meters away.
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 160-storey Burj Khalifa tower where people had gathered for fireworks to mark the New Year.
Television pictures showed pieces of blazing debris raining down from The Address as evacuated occupants hurried away from the building, some running.
“We came out on my balcony to look at the Burj. All the buildings around here had fireworks prepped on the roof,” Paul Mithun, a U.S. consultant in downtown Dubai said.
“We were like, huh, that looks like a little Olympic torch off in the distance. We thought someone lit fireworks. In under two minutes, the fire went up two-thirds of the length of the hotel. I watched the whole thing. It was real bad.”
But as midnight struck, with the Address building continuing to burn, onlookers cheered as a swirling mass of multicoloured fireworks enveloped the Burj Khalifa.
The Dubai government’s media office said the Address blaze was 90 percent 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…