Thursday, 21 November 2019

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Mingala Market fire restarts after gas blasts

Rangoon (Mizzima) - Firemen at 9:30 p.m. were still battling a blaze at Mingala Market that started this morning, after gas tanks at a fourth-floor restaurant exploded to reignite the fire that had reportedly been snuffed out three hours earlier, according to witnesses and fire department sources. They said the toll of fireman injured in the blaze had risen to 20. 

Part of the roof of the large wholesale market building in Mingala Taungnyunt Township that had collapsed during the day exposed flames coming from the fourth floor of the building, a Mizzima reporter at the scene said.  

A total of 65 fire engines were tending the blaze, with more on the way from Pegu Division, about 50 miles (90 kilometres) away, a fireman told Mizzima.

Earlier reports said the blaze at Mingala Market had been brought under control after a 10-hour battle starting at about 8.20 a.m. The difficulty controlling the blaze was blamed on the market’s “best” fire-safety system, fire hydrants that lacked water and ladders that were too short. 

The fire started at shop No. 80/81, a pharmacy owned by Khin Aung, on the fourth and topmost market floor and spread to lower storeys. The building also houses clothes, snacks, commodities and furniture retailers.  

Although the total value of the damage was unknown, 20 firemen were injured and were receiving medical treatment, a Rangoon Division Fire Department official said.

According to an owner, one pharmacy is worth more than 100 million Kyats (about US$100,000).

“The fire produced a large cloud of smoke,” the official said. “Some people breathed in poisonous fumes and lost consciousness, and were sent to the emergency department of a hospital. Currently, they are in a stable condition.”

In February, an official from Rangoon City Development Committee had told local media that Mingala Market had the best fire-safety system.

“Even men cried because they felt that their lives were ruined”, a 50-years-old man  who watched the blaze said. 

Sounds of explosions came from the building because of the fire, a witness told Mizzima earlier.

Shop owners thought the heavy rain that started falling on the city at about 11 a.m. would weaken the fire, but a fire official pointed to other causes for difficulty in bringing the blaze under control.

The hydrants installed by the Rangoon City Development Committee lacked sufficient water, forcing fire engines to rush to Kandawgyi Lake for water to extinguish the flames, the fire department official said.

Moreover, the ladders on the department’s fire engines were too short to reach the upper floors of the market, he added. 


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