Police: Fire consumes hundreds of shops in capital Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An apparent electrical fire late Thursday in the Afghan capital Kabul consumed hundreds of shops, most of them selling electronics and household appliances, police official Rahmat Amini said.

Flames leapt skyward rapidly engulfing entire markets in the center of the city destroying upward of 500 stores, said Amini, adding the city’s firefighters struggled for hours to contain the blaze.

There were no immediate reports of injuries because the fire broke out after most of the stores had closed.

Basir Mujahed, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the fire was contained more than five hours after it began. Interior Ministry officials were on the scene investigating the blaze to determine its exact cause and origination.

The damage is estimated in the millions of dollars.

Amini, the police official, said the government is allowing owners of nearby stores to remove their inventory, but police fear that in the confusion some of those removing electronic goods could be thieves taking advantage of the chaos.

The smell of burnt plastic hung heavy in the area and the scene was chaotic, with store owners loading television sets and appliances into their trucks as the flames threatened nearby stores.

Jan Mohammad, who owns an electronic store in the area, said flames spread rapidly through the city’s core.

“Everyone who has stores in the area is worried. We are trying to remove what we can,” he said.

Several fire trucks and trucks carrying water responded to the blaze.

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