Tsukiji fire: Investigators sifting through wreckage for clues

Firefighters trying to extinguish the fire at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market on Thursday. A Tokyo Fire Department spokesman said the cause is still under investigation.
Firefighters trying to extinguish the fire at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market on Thursday. A Tokyo Fire Department spokesman said the cause is still under investigation.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Japanese police and fire investigators were sifting through the charred wreckage of parts of the world's largest fish market yesterday, a day after a fire tore through seven buildings at the popular Tokyo tourist site.

The 80-year-old Tsukiji market draws tens of thousands of visitors a year to its warren of stalls laden with exotic species of fish and fresh sushi.

No one was injured in the fire, which broke out late on Thursday and sent grey smoke billowing over the city, but 935 sq m 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 is still under investigation," he added. "There is no information indicating arson but again, it is still too early to say."

Media reports said the fire appeared to originate in a three-storey building and that people in the area had reported smelling smoke prior to the fire's outbreak in Tsukiji's "outer" market - an area packed with informal restaurants where tourists can tuck into fresh seafood plates and sushi.

The Tsukiji "inner" market, where most seafood wholesalers are located and world-famous tuna auctions are carried out at dawn, was not affected.

At the fire's peak, some 66 fire trucks and scores of firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, their efforts hampered by narrow streets and tightly packed buildings. The fire was brought under control around midnight and extinguished yesterday morning.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Tsukiji fire: Investigators sifting through wreckage for clues'. Print Edition | Subscribe