Blaze ravages world’s largest fish market
TOKYO — Japanese police and fire investigators sifted through the charred wreckage of parts of the world’s largest fish market, a day after flames tore through seven buildings at the Tokyo tourist site.
The 80-year-old Tsukiji market draws tens of thousands of visitors a year to its network of stalls laden with exotic species of fish and fresh sushi.
No people were injured in the fire that broke out on Thursday and sent gray smoke billowing over the city, but 935 square meters of shops and restaurants in seven buildings were destroyed, a Tokyo Fire Department spokesman said.
“At this point we can’t say anything about the cause, it’s fire trucks still under investigation,” he added. “There’s no information indicating arson, but again, it’s still too early to say.”
Media reports said the fire appeared to originate in a three-story building and that people in the area had reported smelling smoke before the fire’s start in Tsukiji’s outer market — an area packed with informal restaurants where tourists can dine on fresh seafood and sushi.
Most establishments in the area, which bustles with customers during the morning and early afternoon, had already closed for the day when the fire began.
The Tsukiji inner market, where most seafood wholesales are located and world famous tuna auctions are carried out at dawn, was not affected.
In June, Tokyo’s governor announced a long-delayed plan to move Tsukiji from its current site on some of the city’s most prime real estate to a man-made island with contaminated soil. The outer market is not scheduled to move.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said the market’s age and vulnerability to a major earthquake meant it had to be rebuilt.
At the fire’s peak, 66 fire trucks and scores of firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze.
The fire was brought under control after 15 hours on Friday.
Among the places destroyed was a ramen noodle shop extremely popular with foreign tourists, media said.
“The second floor’s a total loss, and everything on the first floor was completely soaked,” one shop owner told NHK public broadcaster.
worked to extinguish the 15-hour blaze
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