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The market in the northern Shan State town of Namlan was devastated by fire on Sunday.
According to Namlan police’s deputy-superintendent Aung Myo Min, the blaze was too big for the town’s fire department to put out on its own, so local authorities had to request assistance from nearby towns.
“It was too big for the local fire department in Namlan to manage alone, so the nearby towns of Hsipaw, Kyaukme and Lashio sent in more fire trucks,” said the officer.
The police said the fire was completely suppressed around 9pm. In total, 545 of 648 shops were destroyed, with value of the destruction estimated by officials at around 200 million kyat (US$156,000).
Sai Lin Oon, a local shop owner, said most of the market was destroyed in the blaze.
“First we heard a crackling sound and assumed someone was playing with fireworks or burning wood. Then we realised there was a fire at the market and attempted to help fight it, but the authorities wouldn’t let us near the site. There were a lot of fire trucks,” said Sai Lin Oon.
“This was Namlan’s main market. I had a shop there, too, but luckily I moved all my merchandise to my home a few days ago to set up shop at an upcoming festival, so I didn’t suffer any loss. But for most people, they lost pretty much everything.”
There were no reports of casualties in the incident. Namlan town police have opened an investigation to find the cause of the fire.
Market fires are a common problem in Burma. A fire at Mandalay’s second largest market, the Mingalar Market Plaza, earlier this year completely destroyed nearly a third of its 900 units.