Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Incenses sticks are suspected in causing a fire at a market early yesterday morning in the Kachin stronghold of Laiza near the Sino-Burmese border. The blaze left about three billion kyat (about US$3 million) in damage, the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) said
One hundred and six shops at Market No. 1 that sell clothes, cosmetics, drugs, kitchen appliances and gold, nine houses and the Ward Two Peace and Development Council Office, were gutted in the blaze, KIO said.
“According to our estimation, property worth three billion kyat was lost in the fire,” KIO Fire and Rescue Committee secretary Colonel Naw Oun told Mizzima.
The fire started in a clothing shop owned by a Chinese couple at 12:30 a.m. yesterday, a victim said, and firemen had quelled the flames by 3 a.m.
“We heard the Chinese couple lit an incense stick, and the fire started from it,” a resident said. That information however has yet to be corroborated.
As the couple had fled, the KIO said it had informed the China liaison, market management and border-trade offices seeking their arrest. It also on Monday formed the fire and rescue committee to provide help to victims of the blaze.
Retailers usually lived in their shops so a total of 67 victims had been displaced and were taking refuge at the Laiza Hotel, Kachin Baptist Church, and Laiza High School, the KIO said. It added it would donate 100 million kyat (US$100,000) to the victims.
Meanwhile, the 50th anniversary of the KIO was held at the Sinpraw Majoi public hall in Laiza on the same day, and Sayargyi Khun Naung from the KIO’s education department read a speech on behalf of the chairman.
Despite the ceasefire between KIO and the junta signed in 1994, KIO has rejected the junta’s demand that it bring its troops under Burmese Army command with a Border Guard Force (BGF). The state-run newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, on October 15 labelled the KIO an “insurgent group”.