A 63-story luxury hotel in Dubai caught fire on New Year’s Eve, blazing into the early hours of New Year’s Day. The fire tore through the building, engulfing the high-rise in bright orange flames.
The Address Downtown Dubai Hotel caught fire around 9:30 p.m. local time. Witnesses say they heard explosions as the smoke billowed and the fire raged on.
As reported by ABC News for Birmingham, AL, there were no fatalities despite the severity of the fire. Only 14 people suffered minor injuries as guests evacuated the building late Friday night.
Of those affected by the hotel fire, one family with ties to Alabama gave a first hand account of the incident. They escaped the burning building with their two sons and were able to make it out unscathed.
Matthew Gronseth, his wife, Susie, and their two boys were staying at Address Downtown the night of the fire. Gronseth now works in Dubai and has an apartment inside the luxury hotel.
He wanted to celebrate the New Year with his family, but their festivities were cut short when they heard a deafening explosion at the time the fire ignited. He described the sound as a boom similar to fireworks.
“We went to the window and it was black,” said Gronseth. “The next thing we saw was a huge ball, an orange flame outside the window.”
Their room was on the 49th floor of the building. Gronseth recalls rushing down several flights of stairs to safety with countless others; he says the experience was traumatic for their young sons who are only seven and one years old.
“Our seven-year-old, he was crying for most of the way. He was quite stressed,” said Gronseth.
“I carried the baby and the seven-year-old, we made him leave with just one shoe because he couldn’t get it fast enough. He just had one sock and one shoe,” said Mrs. Gronseth recalling the thick debris they had to walk through outside the burning building.
The fire had died down by the afternoon on New Year’s Day, but there was still clouds of smoke rising from the building for several hours after.
The damage has yet to be fully assessed, but many portions of the hotel are irreparable; every year, hotel and motel fires result in $76 million in property loss, and this fire in Dubai is sure to contribute a great portion to that statistic.
As with many other guests of the Address Downtown Dubai, the Gronseth family is now staying at another hotel.
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