CAIRO — A massive fire engulfed a hotel and several nearby buildings in a busy commercial area in downtown Cairo early Monday, killing three people and wounding 91 others, according to Egypt's ambulance services.
The fire started shortly after midnight inside the six-story Hotel Andalusia in the populous and dilapidated Ataba neighborhood. The flames quickly spread to at least three adjacent buildings, including a warehouse, according to an Interior Ministry statement carried by the state-run MENA news agency.
Most of the injured had breathing difficulties, the Ambulance Authority said. Half were treated at the scene and the rest were taken to nearby hospitals.
The cause of the blaze, which took six hours to put out, was not immediately known, and an investigation was underway.
As hotel guests were being evacuated and fire engines arrived at the scene, the blaze engulfed dozens of street vendor stalls and small shops along the street.
Firefighters from atop cranes struggled for hours to extinguish the blaze. Some smashed through windows to bring fire hoses into the buildings and to the upper floors. Vendors scaled balconies to climb inside the warehouse to salvage their merchandise.
Many watched with disbelief as the flames consumed their goods, which they said were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"The whole area caught on fire, including buildings and our stores," said Ahmed Gamal, one of the vendors. "Everything became a mess."