A fire burns down a shopping complex housing 1,400 outlets in Poland's capital

A major fire broke out in a vast shopping complex in the Polish capital that housed some 1,400 shops and service outlets

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A major fire broke out Sunday morning in a vast shopping complex in the Polish capital that housed some 1,400 shops and service outlets and where many of the vendors were from Vietnam.

Huge plumes of black smoke could be seen rising over the vast area. The fire department said that more than 80% of the Marywilska 44 shopping complex burned in the Bialoleka district of Warsaw, and that the roof caved in.

Police reported no injuries, but traders were in despair at the loss of their livelihoods. The Gazeta Wyborcza daily reported that some Vietnamese vendors wanted to enter to save their goods from the complex, but were blocked by security guards.

The Association of Vietnamese Entrepreneurs in Poland said the blaze meant “great financial losses for merchants,” calling it a “terrible tragedy for thousands of merchants and their families.”

Chemical and environmental rescue specialists were among the large numbers of rescue officials who took part in the operation. Authorities sent a text message warning Warsaw residents about the fire, and telling them to stay home with the windows closed.

Mirbud, an industrial construction company listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, owns the shopping center.

Warsaw police said it had begun investigating the blaze, which began at around 3:30 a.m. local time (0130 GMT), but hadn't yet determined the cause.

The Warsaw city administration planned on Monday to discuss financial support for the small traders whose livelihoods were destroyed.

Shopping centers and large shops are usually closed on Sunday because of a ban on trade imposed by the previous government, which had close ties to the Catholic church. However, small business owners are exempt from the ban, and many of the small shops at the center worked on Sundays.