ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A massive fire erupted in the old market of the city of Kirkuk late Monday, decimating hundreds of shops.
Early numbers indicate that over 200 stores have been completely destroyed by the blaze that engulfed the “Qaisary” bazaar of Kirkuk, a security source claimed when speaking with Kurdistan 24. The fire was raging until 4:00 am on Tuesday.
Shop owners estimate losses upward of tens of thousands of dollars.
“My store had close to [fifty to sixty thousand dollars’] worth of goods in it, and now it’s all ashes,” one owner said in an interview the morning after.
Local authorities are yet to announce the cause of the incident, but some store owners told Kurdistan 24 it had been caused by an electrical short-circuit.
Electrical fires are a chronic issue in Kurdish cities and wider Iraq in general as they suffer from a decades-old infrastructure and low safety standards, especially in older buildings.
In August, a similar fire burned down Erbil’s Qaisary bazaar and two months later, another erupted in the Kurdistan Region capital’s clothing market (Langa), causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to both shopkeepers and the government alike.
The Qaisary is among the historic sites located in the disputed city of Kirkuk. It was first opened in 1855.
The bazaar has seven main gates – meant to symbolize the days of the week – which open into 24 pathways – hours in the day – and contains 356 shops. The second floor is made up of 12 other shops and showrooms. The shops sell various goods including clothes and food products.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Hemin Dalo)