Fire crews extinguish blaze at Istanbul tower block

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 17, 2012 4:12 AM
Fire crews extinguish blaze at Istanbul tower block

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A large fire broke out in a 42-storey tower block in central Istanbul on Tuesday, sending thick smoke billowing into the air before firefighters extinguished the blaze, and there were no reports of casualties, officials said.

Live images on Turkish television earlier showed debris falling from the upper floors of the building, which is made up of residential apartments and offices, as fire crews fought the blaze.

People wearing breathing masks were led out by fire crews. A nearby petrol station and other buildings were also evacuated.

"It is not clear yet why or from where the fire was started. We will see when the fire brigade's report is finished. The cause will be investigated," said Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas.

"We could have experienced a catastrophe as at least 1,500 people reside in the building," he said.

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.

The flames appeared to spread from the base of the tower and raged up one side of the building, leaving it scorched black.

State broadcaster TRT Haber quoted Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni as saying the fire had started in the air conditioning units at the base of the tower.

(Reporting by Evrim Ergin, Seda Sezer and Can Sezer, Writing by Jonathon Burch, Editing by Andrew Heavens)