Explosions heard as fire rips through Berlin supermarket
Fire services in the German capital described witnessing repeated explosions as they struggle against a huge blaze at an Asian supermarket.
Fire services were called to the scene at around 11:20 am on Wednesday morning, where a dark plume of smoke visible across Berlin was rising
Dong Xuan Center, Berlin’s largest Asian supermarket located in the Lichtenberg district east of the city centre, had gone up in flames.
By the mid-afternoon, hundreds of firefighters were still battling the blaze, but a spokesperson said that they would let the building burn down in a controlled manner.
“We can’t do any more,” he said.
The fire broke out in a 6,000-square-metre-storage facility where crates of nail polish had been kept, the Berliner Zeitung reports.
Fire crews warned reporters and photographers not to breathe in the smoke, describing it as “highly poisonous.”
But a fire services spokesperson later told Berlin newspaper der Tagesspiegel that measurements hadn’t revealed “dangerous concentrations of pollutants in the air.”
While it is possible that there is poison in the smoke it would be drawn upwards, the spokesperson reassured.
So far no-one has been reported injured as employees of the supermarket were able to evacuate the building before it was gripped by the flames.
Roughly 150 firefighters are currently tackling the fire but have been unable to enter the building as slabs of concrete detached from the hall's steel framework by the heat keep tumbling to the ground.
Police recommend that anyone within five kilometres of the site keep their doors and windows closed to prevent smoke from entering.
Wegen starker Rauchentwicklung & Wind Ri. Westen empfiehlt die @Berliner_Fw Fenster & Türen im Umkreis von 5 km geschlossen zu halten.— Polizei Berlin (@polizeiberlin) 11. Mai 2016
Dong Xuan Centre is a sprawling complex comprising shops, restaurants, and small businesses as well as its market halls and warehouses on a former industrial site.
It is a key gathering place for the large Vietnamese population in Lichtenberg, many of whom came to the former East Germany as foreign contract labourers.