Inferno destroys prestigious Al-Ahram Studio in Cairo’s Giza

A major fire in Cairo destroyed one of the Arab world’s most prestigious and oldest film production houses, founded 80 years ago.

Flames overtook the Al-Ahram Studio in Cairo’s Giza district, burning everything inside and spreading to three surrounding buildings which were evacuated before the blaze reached them.

Residents of the neighboring buildings were still sleeping on the ground in nearby streets at dawn on Saturday.

Deadly fires are a common hazard in Egypt, where fire codes are rarely enforced and emergency services are often slow to arrive.

In this case, security sources said there were no deaths, though some people suffering smoke inhalation were treated at the scene.

Local media reported that the fire broke out 24 hours after filming finished for a Ramadan television series. The Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which began last Monday, accounts for peak viewership in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, and firefighters needed more than six hours to extinguish it, according to the security sources.

Yusif Mohammed, a neighbor who witnessed the fire, said that flames “reached the surrounding buildings before fire trucks arrived.”

“No one knows what really happened” to cause it, he said.

Al-Ahram Studio was founded in 1944 and built on 27,000 square meters (290,625 square feet) containing three production stages, a screening room and an editing suite.

Countless Egyptian films and television series were produced there.

In the 1950s Egypt was the third-biggest film producer in the world.

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