Fire destroys Lilo Market
By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, December 124 people were injured and about 150 shops completely burnt down at Lilo open air Market on the outskirts of Tbilisi on Thursday, when about 1,500 square metres of the market caught fire in early morning.
According to the head of the Emergency Situations Service at Tbilisi Mayor’s office, Temur Giorgadze, the fire broke out in the basement where New Year fireworks and explosives were being kept. “The electric wires were old and not working properly,” Giorgadze said. Director of the Market Gia Kvaratskhelia however gave another version of how the fire started, saying that after the owner of the fireworks shop switched on the heating a firework fell on the heater and exploded. The Lilo Market staff, contrarily, claim the fire started as a result of a short circuit when the electricity was turned on in the morning. They said the fire was already burning when they came to the market at 7 a.m.
According to the Temur Giorgadze the fire spread through the area fast due to a strong wind. 31 fire brigades had been trying to put out the fire for 7 hours, however the wind made it hard to localize the fire, the Governor of Samgori region Temur Grigalashvili said.
Emergency Situations Service officials stated that they received the call from Lilo Market at 7:30 a.m. Temur Giorgadze told journalists that the fire was burning in 3 different places when the firefighters arrived at the scene. “This made their work harder,” Giorgadze said.
The fire has destroyed most of the Market, damaging the traders’ goods and shops, leaving traders without their daily income. The majoritarian MP for the Samgori region, Rusudan Kirvalishvili, who has been at the scene, has said the damage is “quite big.” “The people have bank loans,” she noted, promising to help people damaged as a result of the fire.
Officials say the full financial damages have not been estimated yet. According to the Director of Lilo Market a special commission will be created to assess the damage.