Blaze in Kabul market controlled, 80 shops gutted
KABUL (Pajhwok): A huge blaze that swept into a marketplace in central capital Kabul was finally extinguished on Saturday, but gutted a large number of shops and caused heavy losses to traders, an official said.
Maj. Gen. Abdur Rahman Rahimi, the Asmayee Zone police commander, told reporters the fire erupted as a result of an electric short-circuit in Haji Zardad market at about 10:30am this morning.
Sponge shoes and sandals are sold at the market. Despite timely arrival of the firefighters, the fire could not be controlled immediately because of inflammable goods in the market, Rahim said, adding that the lack of standard roads in the area also led to a delay in dousing the fire.
He said the fire had spread from Zardad market to a nearby market called Sayed Habibullah market where stationary materials were partially torched.
Rahimi said the fire was put out and only some parts of underground area of the market was in flames which would be silenced soon. He said 80 shops were torched in Zardad market.
Eyewitnesses said some shops in Miralam market selling shoes, sandals and raisins were also gutted.
The exact losses are yet to be known.
The fire engulfed Zardad, Syed Habibullah and Mir Alam markets, selling shoes, stationery and turbans. Columns of thick smoke and flames rose from the site. Flames could be seen several kilometres from the site.
A guard at Zardad market, Mohammad Ishaq, told Pajhwok Afghan News the blaze -- caused by an electric short-circuit -- engulfed the two other markets as well.
Local shopkeepers said the markets had hundreds of shops. As the shopkeepers scrambled to take their goods out, three firefighting vehicles reached the spot. People said they could not put out the fire despite hectic efforts.
One shopkeeper, named Massoud, said the fire was so huge and putting it out was beyond the control of firefighters. NATO assistance was needed to extinguish the blaze, he believed.
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