BEIJING (Reuters) – Fire consumed a building in Beijing that formed part of Central China Television's new headquarters, as residents launched fireworks throughout the city to celebrate the Lantern Festival Monday evening.
Flames 20-30 feet high shot out of the building, just north of the landmark CCTV tower designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The flames were reflected in the tower, which itself appeared to be untouched.
"The upper fifth is on fire, multiple floors. Debris is falling and flames are coming out in all directions," Edie Marshall, a Beijing resident, told Reuters.
No-one appeared to have been in the building, a policeman on the scene said, adding he had no immediate knowledge of any casualties.
Hundreds of people watched and took photos amid an acrid smell as fire trucks sprayed streams of water on the building. Armed police moved the onlookers beyond a cordon as paramilitary troops moved in on the building.
The fire department did not immediately comment on the suspected cause of the blaze, which occured as the city was bombarded with fireworks on the final day of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The destroyed building housed the Mandarin Oriental hotel in eastern Beijing, which was supposed to open in 2009. It was also designed to include a theater, recording studios and cinemas, while CCTV's main production and broadcasting units were to occupy the main building next door.
I'm not easily shocked by news of the day but my jaw dropped when I saw this, having been paying attention to construction for the past couple years. It's unreal watching a building with a metal and glass shell burn.
That's crazy! How can a modern construction like that burn so fiercely? Surely it should of had fire protection and be compartmented to stop the spread of fire? I've never seen a fire like it before! I can't believe it!
This is truly a sad day for all of us who have followed the construction of this building for years. I can only be grateful that nobody was killed in this fire. My heart hurts to see such a beautiful and unique building destroyed before it could even be enjoyed.
Wow, you know, fireworks go off in large cities all the time but they never light skycrapers on fire. They must have used some material on this building that would readily catch fire and they just didn't think about it.
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