Myanmar fire guts iconic Yangon hotel Kandawgyi Palace

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A firefighter walks through the burned-out Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 19, in Yangon, Myanmar.

A fire has ravaged an iconic luxury hotel in Yangon, Myanmar, killing at least one person and injuring two others.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which broke out around 3:20 the teak-and-stone Kandawgyi Palace Hotel overlooking a picturesque inner-city lake, authorities told Reuters.

Photos and video posted online show the spectacular blaze racing through the traditional Burmese-style building before dawn.

"The embers floating through the sky looked like hellish snowflakes", he said.

"We don't know why the fire started".

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Powers, who works in Bangkok and is from SC, said there was no alarm and he initially thought the sounds of shouting and footsteps outside the family's room were drunken hotel guests. Exploding gas cylinders hastened its spread, he said. The cement ground and first floors were also affected, reported the Associated Press.

Htay Lwin said the hotel's sprinkler system was fully functional and that the staff had been trained in fire safety procedures.

Firefighter Kyaw Kyaw said the blaze started about 3am and may have been set off by an electrical fault.

Guests at the hotel had been moved to other hotels in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, which has made its mark on Southeast Asia's tourist trail since the country emerged from full junta rule.

Tay Za - a controversial tycoon who spun millions of dollars through his close military links - founded the Htoo Group, which spans construction, timber, resorts and an airline.

The oldest parts of the Kandawgyi hotel date to the 1930s when British army officers used the site as rowing club.