A large fire broke out at a high-rise under construction building near Dubai's largest shopping mall, sending thick gray smoke billowing over the heart of the city.

The site is next to the Dubai Mall and the 63-storey The Address Downtown Dubai tower, which was heavily damaged in a fire on New Year's Eve in 2015.

Dubai's government media office said the fire erupted at the Address Residences Fountain Views towers, and that firefighters have brought it under control.

"Cooling operations are underway and ambulance units are on site," the media office posted on its Twitter account. It said there were no injuries.

The fire broke out at around 6:30am (02:30 GMT). Flames licked out of the podium level of the building as firefighters shot water inside.

Every few minutes, small blasts could be heard inside the structure, presumably from exploding propane or welding tanks used by the workers. Ambulances stood nearby, but there was no sign of any worker being treated.

The fire appeared to be confined to the lower floors of the structure.

Fountain Views complex is being built by Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties, which raised the mall and the hotel struck in the 2015 blaze.

The property has three towers each 60 floors high and had been due to be completed in April 2018.

Large numbers of firefighters were on the scene, and police cordoned off nearby roads.

"It was plumes and plumes of black smoke. It looks like it was quite low down," said witness Anthea Ayache, before adding that firefighters responded quickly.

"There's so many fire brigades, so they seem to have gotten on top of it very quickly," she said.

Dramatic fires have hit skyscrapers in Dubai and other fast-growing cities in the United Arab Emirates in recent years.

Building and safety experts have cited a popular type of cladding covering the buildings that can be highly flammable.

Source: News agencies