Iran says 30 firefighters killed in collapse of high-rise

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state-run Press TV says 30 firefighters have been killed in the collapse of a burning high-rise building in Tehran.

Press TV announced the deaths on Thursday 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.

The blaze began hours earlier. There was no immediate cause offered for the fire.

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.

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.