Fire crews extinguish Istanbul blaze

Firefighters contain blaze in 42-storey high-rise, which houses residential apartments and offices.

    Fire crews extinguish Istanbul blaze
    Initial inspection suggested that the fire was caused by a technical problem [AFP]

    A large fire has broken out in a 42-storey tower block in central Istanbul, Turkey, but officials said hundreds of people were quickly evacuated and no one was hurt.

    Black smoke rose from the 152 metre high Polat Tower Residence until firefighters brought it under control on Tuesday.

    Al Jazeera's Ozgun Levent, reporting from Istanbul, said the fire had been put out and the smoke was dispersing.

    He said that there were no casualties, and that the building, also known as a "smart building", aided a successful rescue effort and a speedy end to the disaster, due to its design and fire system.

    Istanbul's governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said an initial inspection suggested that it was caused by a technical problem with a section containing air conditioners.

    Mustafa Sarigul, the mayor for the district of Sisli, where the building is located, said the inside of the building was not affected.

    "The building's fire-extinguishing system automatically activated," Sarigul said. "Otherwise we could have faced a huge disaster."

    The tower block's owner, Adnan Polat, said everyone from the building had been rescued.

    "All of them left the building in a healthy condition. We also rescued a few pets. Our biggest reward is there was no loss
    of life. This building has an early warning system and this incident showed the importance of it to everyone," Polat said.

    Located in the busy Besiktas district in the heart of Istanbul, home to many shops, two gas stations and one hospital is situated close to this building.

    Levent said it was one of the biggest residences in the area, and few gas stations nearby were not affected.

    Live images on Turkish television showed the building, which is made up of residential apartments and offices, engulfed in black smoke with pieces of debris falling to the ground below as fire crews fought the blaze.

    Images of people being taken out of the building's lower floors were also depicted.

    Roads nearby were closed to traffic for safety reasons, the private NTV television station reported.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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