Beijing CCTV Tower Fire
enormous fire kills one and burns brand-new CCTV building in Beijing
One fireman was killed and six others were injured in a spectacular fire in Beijing, China on February 9, 2009 during the Lantern Festival, the last day of celebrations for the Chinese New Year. The building was part of the brand-new CCTV Tower complex, right next door to the famous, gravity-defying tower that is notable for its unique design. The fire was started by an enormous (and according to Chinese government officials, illegal) fireworks display celebrating the near completion of the building as well as the end of the Chinese New Year. Reports say that the building burned so quickly and spectacularly because of its unique zinc/aluminum covering that gave it a shiny appearance, designed to complement the mostly glass CCTV tower building directly south of it. Whether it will be rebuilt from scratch, or as Chinese government officials are saying, the damage is only "superficial", let's hope that they find a better way to give the building an attractive exterior appearance. Although the death of the fireman is tragic, thankfully the building was mostly unoccupied due to the fact that it had not opened its doors yet as the new 5-star Mandarin Hotel - it was scheduled to open in June of this year.
March 5, 2009 update: New information on the investigation into the fire has uncovered some possible financial irregularities, and flammable insulation is blamed as the main cause for the rapid spread of the fire: http://english.caijing.com.cn/2009-03-03/110111281.html
March 22, 2009 update: The Chinese government has put up enormous red metal walls around the outer perimeter of the hotel to try to block the view of the burned out hotel.