Firefighters worked into the night last night to salvage what little remains of the iconic Savalalo Market.
Known as the Flea Market and one of the most visited places in Samoa for tourists, the property was completely gutted by fire yesterday evening.
It was not possible to get an official comment from the Police and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority last night.
Whereas Police officers were busy to keep members of the public away from the flames, the firefighters did their best to stop the flames from reaching nearby buildings. These include the Tooa Salamasina Hall and the extention of the market which was once the Agricultural Store.
As the flames raged through the property, bystanders and market stall owners stood idly, watching their stalls go up in smoke.
Some of them were seen trying to pull what they could from the fire.
Most people who were present when the fire started told the Sunday Samoan they heard a loud explosion at the beginning of the fire.
They suspect the blaze started from the Food Hall and it spread quickly.
“I was sitting down in the stall as I own one,” one stall owner said. “All of a sudden I heard a loud bang and I saw fire shortly after. I grabbed my box of money and ran for my life.”
Taxi driver, Tiliu Ailoga, who is normally stationed in front of the Market, shared the same story.
“There were a lot of explosions and I suspect those were gas bottles inside the stalls and the shops,” he said. “When the Fire Emergency Services arrived, there was hardly anything they could have done. I’m just grateful that no one was injured.”
Shop owner, Julia told Samoa Observer that she was very sad.
“We live at Vailima and it was one of our cousins that called and told us about the fire. I just sat on the chair at my home and I went numb.”
She said they had just restocked their stall with thousands of tala worth of goods. On top of that, the safe they had in the building had about $3,000 cash, their sales for last week.
“There is nothing left now,” she said. “It has all gone.”
Recently, the government had planned to demolish the market to make way for a better structure.