Eliava Market ablaze in Tbilisi

3 July 2017
(Mari Nikuradze/ OC Media)

A Fire broke out at Eliava market in Tbilisi on 2 July. No one was seriously injured in the Sunday evening fire, but four people were taken to hospital with light injuries, including one firefighter.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, and the Interior Ministry has launched an investigation. It spread over more than 2,500 square metres of the market, and according to the Interior Ministry, took around 150 firefighters to extinguish. According to preliminary information, the fire spread mostly over sections storing tyres, car oils, and other car parts.

The head of Tbilisi’s Didube District, Irma Zavradashvili, told media that up to 15 shops had been burnt down.

Efforts to stabilise the building continued overnight, and police monitored the area preventing people from going inside, as some vendors attempted to go in to check on their goods.

Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania told TV Pirveli  that most of the vendors didn’t have their goods insured. He said that it is necessary to wait for the results of the investigation to determine who is responsible.

‘First we have to determine the cause of the fire’, he said.

Davit Gelashvili, Deputy Head of Georgia’s Emergency Services, told journalists that fire safety rules were not followed at the market — that there were no fire hydrants within the market and an insufficient number of exits.

A number of people gathered outside the market as well as on social networks have speculated that the fire was intentional, as it is the latest in a string of fires in Tbilisi’s markets.

‘Sunday evening. People are home. No one works. How can anyone assure me that this fire wasn’t intentional. They will probably sell this spot soon and construct another shopping mall, you will see’, Merab, 61, who came to check on his friend’s goods, told OC Media, also complaining that police didn’t let people in once the fire was extinguished.

‘Poor people, it is a tragedy. Why do they keep burning all the markets. Even fascists wouldn’t act like this’, Natia Kvaratskhelia wrote on Facebook.

On 30 January a fire broke out at a large shopping in central Tbilisi’s Station Square, destroying it almost completely. In the past few years other markets including the Roma Market, a market in Isani, and a Saba market were partially burned down.

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