400 shops razed by Sagaing fire

The total cost of the damage of a fire that blazed its way through a market in Burma’s northern Sagaing division yesterday has been estimated at nearly 170 million kyat ($US170,000).

The fire broke out at Monywa town’s renowned Chindwin Yadanar market around 3am yesterday and was extinguished at 10am, said an official on duty at the Monywa fire station.

“There is still smouldering beneath the rubble, which contained inflammable substances such as rubber slippers, and we are working to put it out,” he said. “There are no more flames but still a lot of smoke.”

The fire is believed to have started after a car battery inverter being used to power a market stall short-circuited. The official said that more than 400 of the market’s 1106 shops and stalls were destroyed.

An eye-witness told DVB that only the front of the market complex remained, while “everything inside was burnt”. He added that “most of the products burnt were garments, shoes, pickled fish, dry fish and fish sauce”.

Shop owners in the market were however suspicious of the fire. “The fire brigade said it started from a short circuit but it wouldn’t have spread this quickly if that was true,” said one man. “But now, the fire has grown so large just when contact is being made to the fire brigade.”

Chindwin Yadanar market is seen as vital for the flow of trade along the Chindwin river, which cuts through Sagaing division. It is the second major fire to destroy a market in Burma in the space of two weeks; on 24 May a fire gutted the landmark Mingalar wholesale market in Rangoon, destroying thousands of shops.

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