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Almaty's 'Optovka' catches fire

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Almaty's 'Optovka' catches fire

A fire has broken out at one of Almaty markets continuing the last year’s series of frequent market fires. This time it is Zhuldyz Wholesale Market commonly known as 'Optovka' located at the crossing of Raimbek and Rozybakiyev streets that has suffered the burning.

The fire started at 4:09 p.m. on February 3 on Monday. Firefighters arrived 10 minutes later at 4:19 p.m. when several trading and storage quarters of the market were already in flame. The fire covered 80 square meters. Around 10 containers were badly damaged by the fire.

Monday is a day-off for most markets in Kazakhstan, including this one. So luckily there weren’t many people at the market that day and the fire had no casualties.

Market fires are hard to fight, because they are packed with consumer goods of various kinds. They are made of cotton and synthetic fabrics, plastic and wood that are all highly combustible and feed the fire into spreading very rapidly. Aisles are always very narrow and cluttered with boxes and trading stands that clog the movements of the firefighters. Besides, firefighters have to break open locked containers to get to the burning stuff and this also takes time. So the Almaty fighter-fighting authorities have made it a priority to react rapidly and massively to such fires to minimize the damage.

The firefighting operation involved15 fire engines, 5 auxiliary vehicles and 60 firefighters. The fire was taken under control at 5:35 pm and extinguished completely at 7:30 pm.
The causes of the fire are being identified by the investigators of the Emergency Situations Department of Almaty.

The Emergencies Minister of Kazakhstan Vladimir Bozhko has already made a statement about the fire and named the preliminary findings.

According to the tentative version, construction works were made at the market that day and the builders were using angle grinders to cut metal. They were careless and did not take much notice of where the sparks were flying to until the fire started in a nearby office materials shop. It then spread to the neighboring containers.  

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