Peru: Comas Residents Accuse Municipal Workers of Setting Fire

(LIP-ir) — Last night, an enormous fire destroyed several small shopping centers near the 12th kilometer of Túpac Amaru Avenue in Comas, a district located in the northern part of the Lima Metropolitan Area.

Neighbors, store owners and firefighters from 8 different fire stations fought against the blaze for approximately 2 hours last night, which consumed over 70 clothes and footwear stands on the corner of 22 de Agosto and Honduras Avenues.

Several stand owners reported that the fire began around 7:30 p.m. and consumed their stands and stores for nearly two hours.

Neighbors and store owners attempted to help firefighters by filling small buckets with water and dumping them on the tremendous blaze. Due to a lack of water in the poor district of Comas, the small buckets could only be half-filled. Thus making all attempts by neighbors and store owners futile.

The lack of water also made the firefighters’ task of putting the fire out much more difficult. It was reported that the fire grew to such a large size because of a lack of preventative measures; such as having fire extinguishers ready to control the flames when they first began and working smoke detectors.

The Mayor of Comas, Miguel Saldaña, stated that the shopping center did not have the necessary license or permission to operate from the municipality and that an eviction of all the store owners was pending. As a result, store owners accused authorities of having set the fire.

Firefighters reported that the fire had begun in an empty stand after several bad connections caused a short circuit.