The Costanera Center real estate megaproject, including South America's tallest skyscraper, experienced a fire on Thursday that forced authorities to evacuate more than 1,000 people.

Emergency personnel told reporters that the fire alarm went off just after noon due to the presence of smoke at all levels of the commercial center, especially in the underground parking garage.

The incident forced security officials to order the building's immediate evacuation and allow people to leave in their cars without paying their parking fees, while firefighters were en route.

Santiago's fire chief, Cristobal Goñi, said that the fire originated in the fifth underground level of the center resulting from an accumulation of trash and debris and burned for about an hour.

A similar incident occurred on May 26, after the explosion of a parked vehicle's fuel tank on one of the subterranean parking levels.

Once complete, the Costanera Center will have more than 700,000 square meters (about 7.4 million square feet) of floor space in the heart of Santiago's financial district, which is known as "Sanhattan."

The project is owned by retailer Cencosud, which is controlled by businessman Horst Paulmann, who operates chains of supermarkets, home improvement and other large stores, entertainment centers and a financial zone in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Brazil. EFE