CCTV on Fire

At about 9pm this evening, the boot-shaped building to the north of the new CCTV Headquarters caught fire. The building is known as the Television Cultural Center (TVCC) and was to open next month. It was to house not only the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, but also a theater and cinema. The building appears to have been totally gutted by the huge blaze that engulfed it.

Authorities have still not released any details about casualties or the cause of the fire, though obviously fireworks are the prime suspect. Roads around the area along with the line 10 subway line have been closed. You can view video of the blaze here and here.

Update (7.30am): A new video that has been uploaded to Youtube, seems to shows the fire started on the roof of the building. Phoenix, however, are reporting that the fire started at 8.27pm on about the 30th floor of the 50-odd story building and then spread in both directions. They also report the first death from the fire (unconfirmed confirmed - although The Beijing News make no mention of it in their detailed coverage of the blaze on pg 8) - Zhang Jianyong of the Hongmiao Brigade died after being injured while fighting the fire. Other firefighters who entered the building to rescue two people stuck on the 14th floor appear to have emerged safely from the building. Seven firefighters were also sent to Chaoyang Hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.

Update II (noon): The Wall Street Journal have published a brief article with attached video and slide show, that offers an informed overview of the information available at the moment

Update III (6pm): We've created a small gallery or images taken by people at the scene of the fire. If you snapped any shots of the blaze that you'd like to share, send them to

Links and Sources
The Beijinger Forum: CCTV Tower BURNING DOWN Image
Youku: 2009年2月9日央视附近元宵火灾
Sina: Page devoted to coverage of the Fire
CNN: China: Fire engulfs 40-story luxury hotel
CQNews: 网友第一时间爆料“中央电视台配楼大火”(图)
Sina: 中央电视台新址大楼火灾现场火势被控制
Twitter: #cctvfire
Youtube: Start of the Fire
Xinhua: News reporting death of Firefighter
The Wall Street Journal: Beijing Hotel Tower Is Destroyed by Fire
The Beijinger Gallery: CCTV Fire


the first question that comes to mind is who is the building's insurer, and from that you can probably gauge whether or not arson is the case (most probably is), modern buildings don't just burn up like that! but then again the chinese are not known for their safety standards, still i say arson.

Why didn't it collapse like the Twin Towers?

I guess it needed some jet fuel.


eurotrash wrote:
Why didn't it collapse like the Twin Towers?

Whoever did it forgot to place the demolition charges?

More seriously, that building went up like a torch. Modern buildings are supposed to be designed/build to withstand fire reasonably well and long. So they are not supposed to do that!

The WTC build to ancient safety standards and with ton's of jetfuel to ignite the fires and huge holes in the structure to supply oxygen did not go up in flames like that.

Seems someone - somewhere seriously violated fire safety standards (use of fire retardant materials, fire doors and so on).

And why was the sprinkler system not on? That should have doused small fires before they become big ones. Did it have a sprinkler system?

L.V.X. Thor

Rosea Rubea et Aureae Crucis

Indeed shocking, but very regrettably not at all surprising. From my own experience I can say that in Beijing there is very little regard for fire safety. In the building where I live the fire extinguisher cabinets are kept locked and about half of the fire and smoke prevention doors are damaged or kept held open by some makeshift device. After complaining endlessly over three years to the property management department without effect I wrote twice to the authorities concerned, all to no avail. Eventually, with the help of a local lawyer, we made a meeting on site together with the property management department and the local police (fire) officer. Their response was to suggest that I put up a poster exhorting my neighbours to close the fire doors! One door, out of about 50 damaged ones, was repaired, but nothing else has changed. They confirmed the policy of keeping fire extinguisher cabinets locked because they claimed the brass fittings inside would otherwise be stolen! The state of the building is still "an accident waiting to happen".

in the WSJ article linked to above, they say that "high-rise towers under construction are vulnerable to quickly spreading fires." So maybe more to do with the fact that the building was still under-construction. Then again, it looked quite complete from the outside and the fact that the theater was planning to host it's first play in March, must mean that it must have been quite close to completion.

twitter's chinese search is too bad, you can see another twitterlike website called 饭否 in China, there are many messages about the cctv fire

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