Last Updated Jan 19, 2017 4:12 AM EST
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state-run Press TV said 30 firefighters were killed Thursday in the collapse of a burning high-rise building in Tehran.
Press TV announced the deaths in the blaze at the Plasco building, an iconic structure in central Tehran just north of the capital’s sprawling bazaar.
It gave no source for the information, and the spokesman for Tehran’s emergency services told news channel IRINN that they had “no information about the fate of about 30 firefighters.”
“We are cleaning the rubble and we will see what the situation is,” he told IRINN.
The blaze began hours earlier. There was no immediate cause offered for the fire.
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours before the collapse as police kept out shopkeepers and others wanting to rush back in to collect their valuables.
The building came down in a matter of seconds, shown live on state television, which had begun an interview with a journalist at the scene. A side of the building came down first, tumbling perilously close to a firefighter perched on a ladder and spraying water on the blaze.
A thick plume of brown smoke rose over the site. Onlookers wailed in grief.
Jalal Maleki, a fire department spokesman, earlier told Iranian state television that 10 firehouses responded to the blaze, which was first reported around 8 a.m.
The Plasco building was an iconic presence on the Tehran skyline.
The 17-story tower was built in the early 1960s by Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian and named after his plastics manufacturing company. It was the tallest building in the city at the time of its construction.
Elghanian was tried on charges that included espionage and executed in the months after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the current ruling system to power – a move that prompted many members of the country’s longstanding Jewish community to flee.
The tower is attached to a multistory shopping mall featuring a sky-lit atrium and a series of turquoise-colored fountains.