A fire broke out in Egypt's upper house of parliament on Tuesday wounding thirteen people and prompting deployment of army firefighting helicopters, officials said. "Army helicopters are now trying to put out the fire which has spread," a security official told AFP.
The fire, which broke out on the second floor of the building, spread to the third floor causing severe damage to a parliamentary archive, the official added. "Four emergency service staff were taken to a nearby hospital after suffering smoke-related injuries, and nine people who were in the building also suffered from smoke inhalation," health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahine told state television. "The injuries are not critical and there are no reports of deaths so far," he conveyed.
Shahine said that officials were working to protect the health ministry's central laboratories which are across the street.
"The problem is that the building is built of wood, and this helped the fire to spread. Everyone is working to bring the situation under control," Shura Council speaker Safwat al-Sherif told state television.
Parliament speaker Fathi Surur said the cause of the blaze remained unclear. "We still don't know what caused the fire. The technical teams will have to come and survey that," he told the television. Evacuated employees were quoted as saying by the AP authorities told them they had ruled out terrorism, and that an electrical short-circuit had likely sparked the fire.
All roads in the area have been closed off, allowing access only to emergency services and authorities.