China: Fire engulfs 40-story luxury hotel

Fred Rice was in the middle of watching fireworks when he saw flames rise from the Mandarin Oriental.
A massive fire engulfed a newly constructed, unoccupied luxury hotel in central Beijing on Monday night.

The cause of the blaze at the 40-story Mandarin Oriental is not known, and there were no reports of injuries, according to CNN staff members who were at the scene. The fire began at about 9 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) and continued to burn an hour later. CNN’s Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz said he was on one side of the hotel, but, “It seems like virtually the whole building is burned.” Fire crews are on the scene and appeared to have control of the fire. CNN correspondent Emily Chang said the fire reached up past the 30th floor, but did not appear to be spreading to any of the nearby buildings. The hotel is next to a newly constructed tower for China Central Television (CCTV), but no one has moved into that building either. Watch flames engulf building It happened in the final hours of the Chinese lunar new year as people set off fireworks across the city.

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The modern, angular building was a sign of Beijing’s recent transformation and modernization. It had been scheduled to open late last year, but that was postponed until this year, although most of the building had been constructed. Are you there According to its Web site, the Mandarin Oriental-Beijing is the flagship property in China for the Mandarin Oriental hotel chain.