Dubai Civil Defense personnel at the site of fire Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: A massive fire broke out in the Address Downtown hotel a few hours before the spectacular New year fireworks were to begin at midnight on Thursday.

The fire started on the lower floor of the hotel from the outside and spread to the upper storeys, said eye-witnsses. 

Firefighting teams managed to control 80 per cent of the fire in a record time by 10.30pm to ensure the New Year party continued. 

Major-General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Dubai Police Chief, said once the firefighting efforts are completed, the teams will begin cooling procedures to ensure that the fire does not spread. 

He pointed out that the firefighters are also sweeping the hotel to ensure that no one is stranded inside.

The fire, said Major General Rashid Thani Rashid Al Matroushi, Director-General of Dubai Civil Defence, damaged only the external interface of the hotel. Major General Al Matroushi said all residents of the hotel were evacuated. None of the injured were children. 

Guests of the hotel will be accommodated by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). 

Fifty nurses and 20 doctors from the Dubai Health Authority were on site to attend to people who sustained minor injuries and treat cases of smoke inhalation. Al Mazeina  said 14 people sustained minor injuries and they were treated at the site. 

According to the Dubai Media Office, one person reportedly suffered a heart attack while trying to get out of the building and the shoving by people..

Eyewitnesses said the fire started small at the Address Downtown Hotel, on a side facing the Burj Khalifa.

But the fire quickly spread upward, fanned by strong winds coming from the north.

A staff from a restaurant in the hotel said they were asked to evacuate around 9.45pm.

At 10.34pm, witnesses said they could see ash drifting through the air.

The police and Civil Defence teams undertook an inspection of all the rooms in the hotel.  

Riaz Ahmad, a Pakistani, who went to watch the fireworks said that everything was normal on the other side of the Burj Khalifa as the people continued to enjoy the party. 

“We can see the fire, but there is no stampede or rush in this area,” he said. The police have cordoned off the area near the hotel but rest of the area was normal.

Traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road came to a standstill due to rubbernecking as motorists slowed down to view the fire.