DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A massive fire broke out Thursday night at the high-end Address hotel in downtown Dubai as New Year’s revelers waited for a planned fireworks celebration in the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city.
Video showed orange tentacles of flames swirling up the outside of several stories at the high-rise hotel’s midsection.
Early reports from Dubai authorities said the fire started on the 20th floor. 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.
She and others noticed flames at the hotel, and were soon evacuated from the area.
“That fire was big. The fire was just going so fast,” she said. “It just started burning real quick.”
There were no immediate reports of injuries at the hotel, which describes itself as “the premier five-star hotel” in Dubai. It stands near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.
The fire started around 9:30 p.m., witnesses said. Despite the blaze, the fireworks display over the city will happen as planned around midnight, the government said.
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.”
Soon Hong, who lives in an apartment across from the mall near the Address, said he was setting up his camera near a window to capture the fireworks when he heard something that drew his attention.
“I looked up and the entire building was in flames. It took seconds,” he said.
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.