Fire destroys iconic Vietnamese market in Australia

By VnExpress   December 14, 2016 | 04:50 pm GMT+7

The livelihood of traders, mostly of Vietnamese heritage, went up in flames in Melbourne on Tuesday.

A fire on Tuesday morning destroyed the Little Saigon Market in Melbourne, leaving a damage bill of more than AUD$12 million ($9 million), according to media reports.

The building was vacant at the time so there was no loss of life, according to the reports.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 6:30 a.m., battling the blaze through the morning. They managed to completely control the blaze by noon local time.

Surrounding roads were temporarily closed and residents were told to shut their doors and windows, as well as turn off cooling and heating systems while firefighter tried to extinguish the raging blaze.

The Little Saigon Market opened in 1992 and was popular among about 100,000 overseas Vietnamese in the west of Melbourne and local community.

It had about 25 small businesses including fresh fruit vendors, fishmongers, restaurants, a bakery and an Asian market.

Only a few markets like this remain around Melbourne and they are all treasured as icons in a modern city where large shopping malls and fancy retail stores can be easily found in most neighborhoods.

A trader, who wished to remain unnamed, said that the damage is significant for the local Vietnamese community as many people’s livelihood heavily relies on the business, especially in the critical time as Christmas and New Year holidays.

Tran Ba Phuc, chairman of the Association of Vietnam-Australian Businesses, said the building owners are of Vietnamese origin and the cost of renovations will be covered by their insurance company.

However, he added, it could take several years for traders to recover and in the short term, all businesses in the market will no doubt be missing out on the holiday season.

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