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Large fire breaks out in Tel Aviv's Shalom tower
By
November 17, 2010 20:42
Emergency services evacuate all of building's occupants, nearly 60 firefighters rush up 29 floors, take turns dousing flames.
Fire breaks out at Shalom Tower, Tel Aviv

Shalom Tower fire 311. (photo credit:Aloni Mor)

A large fire broke out on the top two floors of Tel Aviv’s landmark Shalom Tower on Wednesday, sending black plumes of smoke into the city’s evening sky.

With electricity and elevator services cut off, emergency workers evacuated all of the building’s occupants, and nearly 60 firefighters equipped with oxygen tanks rushed up 29 floors to take turns dousing the flames.

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Firefighters battled for several hours to get the fire under control, and said their efforts were hampered by the high location of the fire, the lack of electricity and elevators, and an initial problem in pumping water up to the top of the 34-story, 142-meter tower.

“We treated four people for smoke inhalation on the scene. They were not seriously injured,” a Magen David Adom paramedic said.

The fire broke out at about 4:30 p.m., and a large number of fire engines, ambulances and police converged on the scene, initially fearing mass casualties.

Toward the evening, fears of a serious incident faded, although firefighters asked police to move crowds of onlookers back from the building due to concerns that parts of the upper structure were not entirely sound after exposure to high temperatures.

Police officers completed a second scan of the building to ensure that no occupants were trapped inside, giving the all-clear by 8 p.m.

“We received reports of a fire this afternoon. Our forces are focused on the 29th and 30th floors of the building,” a firefighter spokesman said earlier during the day.

Police had sealed all roads leading to the area and asked members of the public to avoid the scene.

Investigators said it was too soon to know what had caused the blaze, adding that a full investigation would begin after the final flames were out.

Based on an initial analysis, they believe the fire had one source, rather than having begun in more than one place, which could have indicated foul play.
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