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Fires Ravage Baghdad Market Centers

The fire in the Al-Sinak market area destroyed an entire street.
The fire in the Al-Sinak market area destroyed an entire street.
BAGHDAD -- Major fires at separate markets in central Baghdad have destroyed many shops and warehouses and caused millions of dollars in damage, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Shortly after firemen succeeded in containing a massive fire that ravaged the Shorja Market area in the center of Baghdad on September 4, another fire broke out in the Al-Sinak area near Shorja. No deaths were reported in either fire.

This fire at Sinak devastated an entire street and more than 200 firefighters were needed before the blaze was finally extinguished on September 6.

The head of Baghdad's Fire Department, Colonel Adnan Hassan Ali, said more than 30 teams of firemen from the main districts of Baghdad -- Karkh and Rissafa -- fought the fires to ensure they did not spread to neighboring residential areas.

The Al-Sinak area is a major commercial center in Baghdad and home to hundreds of shops and warehouses, most of them specialized in car parts and accessories. Officials say the fire destroyed or severely damaged many of the warehouses at the market.

Saad Hayder, who works in one of the warehouses, told RFI that "this was a big shock and not everyone was able to cope with it. Many of the owners collapsed and were transferred to the hospital" upon realizing their financial losses.

Hassan Ali said it was too early to know the cause of the fires, which seemed to have been synchronized.

Ali Hussein, a shop owner in the Al-Sinak area, said some officials were saying the fires were due to an electrical problem.

But he said this explanation is not convincing to the owners of the shops and other businesses in the two market areas. "We do not believe all this, there must be some other reasons," he said.