A large fire has happened in Almaty flea market located in the lower outskirts of the city, Tengrinews
The market also known as Barakholka started burning late on February 4 after all the doors were closed and all the traders and customers were long gone. So there were no human victims.
Firefighters got the message about the fire at 9:09 p.m and arrived to the site 9 minutes later. The flames initially engulfed 400 square meters of the flea market section called Jupiter packed with a variety of consumer goods and tried to spill into the neighboring Alatau-1 section, but were thrown back by the firefighters. However the fire was so large that they could not take it under control right away and it eventually covered the area somewhere between 1000 and 1500 square meters. The damages are still being estimated.
914 firefighters were working hard to extinguish the huge fire along with 111 fire fighting vehicles. Their deliberation and numbers helped them to stop the flames from spreading any further by 10:17 and extinguish the fire completely by midnight. 267 boutiques have burned to ashes, according to the emergency service.
"Police closed the nearby street for traffic and cordoned off the fire site together with the interior forces. To improve communication with all the fire-fighting teams working at the accident site the Almaty Department of Emergency Situations set up a mobile command center nearby. A drone was used to make a flyover of the massive fire to determine the scale of the damage and identify the fire seats", the Almaty Emergency Department reported.
Many of the traders gathered at the market the following morning. They were not admitted inside, but still refused to go home. They are sure that arson was the cause of the fire.
"The market is cut of from electricity for the night. Only the special outside lights remain. This is done for fire safety reasons. In the other words, if someone forgets to turn off a heater in their boutique, it will be turned off automatically when the purple key is turn off. So no electric appliance or short circuits could have caused the fire," one of the traders explained, adding that the fire broke out at the time when there was no one at the market accept guards.
Unlike the traders, the authorities are not ready to make any official statements about the causes. "I can't give you even a preliminary version. Investigators and the fire lab are at work. They will make their statements when they are ready," Aleksandr Li, chief of the fire fighting service of the Emergency Situations Department of Almaty, told Tengrinews
. However he dispersed the rumors that the fire started in one of the market's eating joints. "The fire started from a corner boutique, not an eating joint," he said.
This fire is the first one for Barakholka this year, but far not the first one in the intense series of flea market fires that have been haunting the area in the past months. None of these fires claimed any human lives, but have damaged people’s property worth millions of tenge leaving hundreds of traders broke.
The previous large flea market fire happened in mid December. Before that there was a large fire on November 17 and a colossal fire claiming over 5 thousand square meters of the market in September.
By Tatyana Kuzmina