BEIJING -- A hotel adjacent to the new China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing caught fire Monday night, witnesses said, and the blaze was still spreading after 10 p.m.
The 159-meter building, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, is around a corner from the iconic CCTV main tower, the witnesses said.
The hotel was used during the Olympics, but the hotel won't officially open until mid-2009. Witnesses said some lights had been on in the hotel.
There was no immediate word of injuries, nor was the cause of the fire known. As Monday is China's traditional Lantern Festival, the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, fireworks were being set off nearby.
A young man who declined to be identified said the fire apparently started at about 8:25 p.m., when firecrackers fell on the top of the building. Police couldn't immediately confirm that account.
Police blocked off traffic in the area and more than a score of fire engines rushed to the scene.
"It is horrible," said woman surnamed Chang, who lives on the 19th floor of an apartment building about 1 kilometer from the CCTV complex.
"There is thick black smoke and high flames. At first we just saw fire on top of the building, but now it is entirely engulfed," she said.
"The building was used during the Olympic Games, but the companies moved out afterwards," said a CCTV staff surnamed Chen, adding that he didn't know whether there were still people in the building.