Monday, February 09, 2009
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Burns
The burning shell of an unfinished, 44-story luxury hotel lit the night sky over downtown Beijing on Monday after being showered with sparks from fireworks set off during China's biggest holiday.
The hotel and the television tower were designed by Netherlands architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren for the firm OMA. Both were nearing the end of construction.
The north wing building of the new CCTV tower appeared to be on fire, in downtown Beijing, China, Monday, February 9, 2009. Police have conducted traffic control around the scene (YouTube).
The Wicker Man Burns," I noted recently here. Now there are fires in Australia and this big one in China.
Please note the locations in the news associated with these fires and from the Ring of Fire: Mt. Redoubt is set to erupt in Alaska, Mt. Disappointment is the focus of the fires in Australia, Mt. Asama and Mount Sakurajima in Japan (erupted on Feb. 2nd), Karymsky Volcano on the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka (also erupted on Feb. 2nd), and this site in China burned on Feb. 9.
Beijing's CCTV headquarters, the Rem Koolhaas building, is a major fire risk. Fireworks, from the last day of New Years celebrations at the site, could be the cause. Right now it's the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the first month of the New Year on the Chinese calendar.
The China Central Television headquarters is a 6.45 million square foot complex that involves twin leaning towers connected by two massive sections in midair. It's an amazing feat of engineering, but everyone in Beijing is now worried that it might collapse if the building directly next to it, right now said to be the incompleted Mandarin Oriental hotel, isn't put out quickly (Gizmodo).
Update via notes from Xinhua: China Central Television (CCTV) itself was responsible for Monday night's massive fire that caused one death and seven injuries in its new headquarters complex in eastern Beijing, the city's fire control authorities said Tuesday, Feb. 10.
CCTV hired staff from a fireworks company to ignite several hundred large festive firecrackers in an open space outside one of its nearly-completed buildings, said Luo Yuan, spokesman and deputy chief of Beijing Fire Control Bureau.
The 30-storey building, about 200 meters from the iconic CCTV tower, houses the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a television studio and an electronic data processing center.
CCTV's four camcorders recorded the fireworks display and the entire ignition process.
A man, who claimed to be former employee of Beijing Urban Construction Group, said he saw people on watch on top of CCTV's main tower with a hose when the firecrackers were set off.
"But I didn't see any on guard on top of the building that caught fire," he told Xinhua reporters at the fire site Monday night.
Beijing Urban Construction Group is prime contractor for the building that caught fire, while the iconic main tower, which many locals jokingly called "the giant shorts", was contracted to another company.
The fire broke out at 8:27 p.m. Monday and was put out at 2 a.m.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009.
Todd Campbell has passed along the news that a Korean Fire Festival fire spread out of control, killed 4, and injured 70 on Monday, February 09, 2009.
The accident happened when organizers set fire to reed-like plants at the top of Hwawang mountain in southeastern South Korea on Monday night as part of the full moon festival, said Park Joong-soo, an officer at Gyeongnam Provincial Police Agency.
The blaze, fanned by sudden winds, spread over firebreaks, forcing spectators to flee. Four of them, who were on top of a large rock to get a better view of the festival, fell about 10 yards to their deaths while trying to dodge the fire, according to Park.
It is a South Korean tradition to set fire to grass along rice fields on the night of the first full moon of the Lunar New Year in the belief that it helps bring good harvests and drives out evil spirits, though it is no longer widely practiced.
This year's first full moon on the lunar calendar fell on Monday. South Koreans celebrated the start of the Lunar New Year on Jan. 26.
The county government in Changnyeong, about 162 miles southeast of Seoul, has organized the fire festival about once every two years since 1995.
China: The final death toll for the Chinese fire at the CCTV tower complex has been announced by Xinhua. One firefighter died in the rescue after inhaling excessive toxic fumes and seven others, including six firemen and a worker in the building were injured.