By Nicole Froio, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A children’s clothes store in Saara was destroyed by a fire on the morning of Saturday, December 15th. The fire started at around 9:30 AM, a peek time for Christmas shoppers in Centro (the city center) Rio.
According to staff, the fire started in the second floor of the store, where the place was crowded with shoppers. The flames spread quickly and people had to flee the scene, leaving purses and documents behind.
The firefighters had to barricade the block of Praça da República where the streets of Alfândega are located. Around forty shops in the area were evacuated and closed in case the fire spread to the sided.
The call to emergency services was made at 9:44 AM and reports indicate the firefighters arrived at the scene ten minutes later. Firefighters from Centro, Caju and Vila Isabel joined forces to contain the fire, which was only achieved hours later at 2PM. On Sunday, an area of the Alfândega street is still blocked off.
The president of the Associação Comercial da SAARA (Commerce Association of SAARA), Ênio Bittencourt claims the firetrucks took thirty minutes to respond to the call and arrive at the scene.
Bittencourt told O Globo: “How can they be this late? The firefighters unit is in the Praça da Republica, it’s very close by. Why did they take thirty minutes to get here? They arrived and still had problems with equipments that blew up and leaked water.”
As the fire is suspected to have been cause by a short circuit, he also added that SAARA merchants always invest on new wiring but that tragedies are always prone to happen. Owner of the destroyed shop, Paulo Constantino Hijjar said the material inside was highly flammable.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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