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Latino Daily News

Sunday February 19, 2012

More Fires in Honduras - This Time Three Public Markets Burn to the Ground

More Fires in Honduras - This Time Three Public Markets Burn to the Ground

Photo: Honduras Fire in Markets

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

At least eight people were injured in a terrifying trio of fires that broke out in three public markets in this capital, the local fire department said.

The causes of Saturday’s multiple conflagration are not yet known but the fire was of “great magnitude” and required “much effort” to extinguish, fire department chief medical officer Felix Castillo said.

Eight people were affected by smoke inhalation and/or suffered other unspecified injuries and were taken in ambulances to the capital’s state-run Escuela Hospital, the fire department said.

The fire occurred in an area with several public markets and other individually-owned businesses in Tegucigalpa’s twin city of Comayguela, which is part of the Central Municipal District making up the Honduran capital.

The sheer size of the blaze was “something unusual” along with the fact that, evidently, the fires broke out in three markets simultaneously, Tegucigalpa Mayor Ricardo Alvarez said.

The Colon, San Isidro and Alvarez markets were the ones affected by the blaze.

Losses are estimated to be in the millions of dollars and initiatives are being sought to help the vendors recover their businesses, the mayor said.

The markets offered clothing, shoes, consumables of all kinds, toys, notebooks and school supplies, plastic items and electric appliances, among other things, and substantial quantities of those goods were destroyed by the flames that sent up enormous columns of black smoke, which could be seen from everywhere in the city.

Officials, meanwhile, said the death toll from the fire in a prison last Tuesday has risen to 358, while the task of identifying the often badly charred corpses - being conducted at the federal Attorney General’s Office’s forensics lab - and the investigation of the country’s worst-ever prison tragedy are both proceeding slowly.

The fifth of the 10 inmates with serious burns being treated at Escuela Hospital, identified as Alexis Bonilla Flores, died on Saturday, prosecutor’s office spokesman Melvin Duarte told Efe.

Four other injured prisoners died between Wednesday and Friday in the same hospital.

Of the 358 people who died in the Comayagua prison farm, located in central Honduras, 357 were inmates and the other was a woman who was visiting her incarcerated husband.

The cause of the prison fire has not been determined, but Honduran Security Secretariat spokesman Hector Ivan Mejia told reporters last week that the blaze was “apparently started by a short-circuit” and flames spread through one of the two cell blocks at the prison.