As It Happens

Witness describes massive fire that engulfed Dubai hotel

Sina Bahrami filmed the fire at the Address Hotel live from the balcony of his apartment. in downtown Dubai.
People run away as a fire engulfs The Address Hotel in downtown Dubai in the United Arab Emirates December 31, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah - RTX20NC3 (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)
Listen6:00

It was hours before Dubai's New Year's Eve fireworks show was set to begin.

But what ended up lighting up the sky, and attracting the horrified attention of the city's revellers, was a massive fire at the 63-storey Address Hotel.

Sina Bahrami is a Londoner who travelled to Dubai to watch the fireworks. He saw the hotel go up in flames from his downtown apartment.

Sina Bahrami witnessed the fire at The Address Hotel in Dubai. (Sina Bahrami / Twitter)

As It Happens guest host Helen Mann spoke to him just a few minutes after midnight and wished him a happy New Year from Toronto. 

"Happy New Year to you! A very strange welcome," Bahrami says laughing. He goes on to describe what he saw:

"I was looking out the window about to take some pictures when suddenly I just saw the blaze of fire coming from the building."

He says flames were shooting twenty metres up the side of the structure. It took minutes for the fire to engulf twenty-stories of the hotel. Almost immediately after the higher floors caught on fire, debris started falling from the bui'ding. 

"The immediate thought is shock...you just wonder, what just happened?"

A screen grab from Sina Bahrami's periscope feed showing the fire at Dubai's The Address Hotel. (Sina Bahrami / periscope)

Dubai officials say one person died from a heart attack during evacuation, and fourteen suffered minor injuries. 

Bahrami says, "I was speculating...that there were going to be much more injuries." 

He questions weather it was the right decision for the city to go ahead with Dubai's New Year's Eve fireworks display.

"It seemed odd. On the one hand, jubilation and fireworks, on the other hand, tragedy." 

While the inferno was unfolding, Bahrami was celebrating with his friends. 

"We almost forgot to say happy New Year's to each other."  

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