Fire rages at Mecca hotel; no injuries or deaths reported

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A hotel in Mecca's Azaziya neighborhood has caught fire, sending plumes of smoke over the area as firefighters worked for hours to extinguish the flames that engulfed the 10-storey building.

Saudi Arabia's Civil Defense says no injuries or deaths have been reported from the fire, which erupted Sunday just before noon. The hotel had been vacated when rescue teams arrived on the scene.

The Azaziya neighborhood is home to many three-star hotels and is not in the vicinity of the Kaaba, Islam's holiest site where millions of pilgrims congregate year-round.

Spokesperson Col. Saeed Sarhan said in a statement that palm trees outside the hotel caught fire and flames from the fronds rapidly reached the building's upper floors. He did not indicate how the trees caught fire nor name the hotel.