A 17-storey building in the Iran capital caught fire on January 19, turning one of the oldest and tallest icons in central Tehran into rubbles as it fell.
The burning and collapse of the Plasco building, located just north of the capital’s bazaar, was viewed live through the state-run Press TV as a journalist was reporting the events at the scene.
It said that the disaster killed at least 75 firefighters and injured many more.
Before the building collapsed, the firefighters battled the blaze for several hours. The police rushed to the area to keep the shoppers to stay away from Plasco while the Iranian military sent units to help.
As few firefighters were putting off the fire via a ladder, a side of the building collapsed close to one of the firemen. Brown smoke emerged immediately from the further collapse blinding the people at the site.
Fire department spokesperson Jalal Maleki tells that 10 firehouses responded to the blaze, which was first reported around 8 a.m.
One resident who was at the area buying a guitar for her brother tells that the disaster was dumbfounding. “It was total chaos, there was dust, there were people everywhere. No one knew what to do,” says Nasim Khakpour.
Ibrahim Najafi, a nearby store seller, saw the collapse before his eyes. “They had been trying to put out the fire for hours when suddenly the building just collapsed,” he shares. “My friends are in there. What a horrible day.”
According to the firefighters, the fire might have started in the morning on the 11th floor before it spread to a floor below.
Plasco building is hailed as the Empire State Building of Tehran. It houses a shopping center and garment manufacturers, with about 590 stores, offices and warehouses inside.
It was built in the early 1960s by by Iranian-Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian, who named the tower after his plastics manufacturing company. At the time, it was the tallest building in the city.
Source: New York Times