CAIRO — Fire broke out in a luxury hotel's tent restaurant early Thursday, and wind-whipped flames leaped to the main building, killing 16 people and injuring about 70. At least one American was among the dead.
Frantic guests at the six-story Heliopolis Sheraton jumped from windows and clambered down bedsheets that they tied together. Many of the injuries were broken bones suffered in falls.
A relative identified the American victim as Robert D. Cresap, 67, a retired accountant from Houston.
Three Americans were seriously injured, said police Brig. Abdel Rehim Kenawy.
The blaze broke out at 1 a.m. and burned for nine hours. The hotel northeast of Cairo has no fire alarms or sprinklers, and many guests heard of the fire from other guests.
Tourism Minister Fuad Sultan said the blaze started accidentally in the Nubian Tent restaurant--a cotton canvas tent attached to one of the three blocks of the T-shaped hotel. The head of Cairo's fire brigade, Maj. Gen. Adel Nigm, said such tents are fire hazards and the Sheraton put it up without consulting the fire department.
Sparks jumped from a clay oven to the ceiling of the tent, igniting flames that quickly spread to the hotel, Sultan said. Officials said the use of hotel tents will be reviewed.
The Heliopolis Sheraton, about 10 years old, is the only one of Egypt's six Sheratons without an alarm system or sprinklers. Sultan said they are not mandatory under Egyptian law.