Around 21:00 on December 31, 2015, a fire broke out on the 20th floor of the building. The floor where the fire is thought to have begun hosts residential suites. Strong winds caused it to quickly spread throughout the building, which was evacuated around 21:45. The nearby Dubai Mall was also evacuated as a precaution.
Dubai's Media Office said the fire began on a 20th floor terrace. Explosions of unknown origin were heard as the fire spread to other parts of the building. Then, debris fell from the building and dark plumes of smoke were seen emanating from the skyscraper. Commenting on the speed with which the fire spread, Jonathan Gilliam, a CNN law-enforcement analyst, said, "This is looking absolutely horrific. This is spreading very rapidly."
A representative of Dubai Civil Defence said four teams of firefighters had fought the blaze. Once the fire was contained, the plan was to ensure that the fire did not spread by implementing cooling procedures, and search for any stranded individuals, according to Dubai Police Chief, Major-General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina.
According to the Dubai Media Office, 14 people were slightly injured and one was moderately injured. One person had a heart attack during the evacuation. The Times of India reported that a photographer, who asked not to be named, was setting up to photograph the Dubai fireworks when he became trapped on a balcony on the 48th floor of the hotel, 10 meters away from the blaze. He sent text messages alerting the authorities to his emergency, and he tied a rope around himself to a nearby window-cleaning platform and hung off a balcony before being rescued.
Those who sustained smoke inhalation and minor injuries were treated by 20 doctors and 50 nurses from the Dubai Health Authority at the site, per Al Mazeina. Director-General of Dubai Civil Defence, Major General Rashid Thani Rashid Al Matroushi, said that all of the hotel residents were evacuated, none of the injured were children, and that fire "broke out only in the external interface and the majority of the fire did not make it to the inside." Several individuals at the site complained that neither the fire alarm nor the sprinkler system activated during the fire.
It was reported that the hotel was likely to have been packed with guests due to its clear view of the New Year's fireworks display at Jumeirah Beach (including Burj Al Arab) and Burj Khalifa. The show still went on as planned; by midnight, authorities had deemed the fire to be 90 percent contained. The following day, smoke continued to rise from the building. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. However, criticism was leveled towards the high amount of cladding—layers of material that are fixed to the outside of buildings for insulation—implemented into the building's design; it was reported that this cladding may have contributed to the fire's spread.