A LARGE PART of Tokyo’s popular Tsukiji fish market caught alight on Thursday afternoon, taking at least 30 fire trucks and dozens of firefighters to extinguish the blaze.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or people trapped in the 80-year-old market, a popular tourist attraction which does about JPY1.6 billion yen (US$14 million) trade in seafood every day.
Clouds greyish smoke billowed into the air, but efforts to extinguish the flames were hampered by the area’s narrow streets and tight-knit buildings.
30+ fire engines on the scene as fire breaks out in Tsukiji’s outer market. pic.twitter.com/Rornj6FPJB
— Nippon.com (@nippon_en) August 3, 2017
The fire was at Tsukiji’s “outer” market – an area packed with informal restaurants where tourists can tuck into fresh seafood plates and sushi.
FIRE AT JAPAN'S TSUKIJI MARKET: Helicopters were seen hovering overhead as firemen fought to contain the fire that started this afternoon. https://cna.asia/2wo29tV(Video: Aloysius Low)
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Thursday, August 3, 2017
Media reports said it spread to four buildings covering some 200sq m of area.
— ¥ (@MOv13APy5bNvffz) August 3, 2017
The Tsukiji “inner” market, where most seafood wholesalers are located and tuna auctions are carried out at dawn, was not affected.
In June, then-Tokyo 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.
Tsukiji draws tens of thousands of visitors a year to its warren of stalls laden with exotic species of fish, huge tuna and fresh sushi, part of a tourism boom that is a key part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic plan.
But Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said the 80-year-old market’s age and vulnerability to a big earthquake meant it had to be rebuilt.
Additional reporting from Reuters