Balikpapan. Too wrapped up watching the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich, hundreds of traders in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, did not notice the start of a fire that razed their stalls in the early hours of Sunday.
As many as 292 stalls at Blauran Market were gutted when the fire moved rapidly from the second floor to first floor of the two-story building.
The city administration has estimated the losses in the billions of rupiah.
Wisnuddin, one of traders, said the fire was first spotted on the second floor.
“We were all watching the Champions League final at the time. Suddenly we saw the fire on the second floor, which sells clothes,” he said.
“It grew bigger and bigger, and in a few minutes it moved to the first floor, where we sell jewelry, cellphones and shoes.”
Wisnuddin said the late arrival of firefighters also contributed to the high number of stalls that were destroyed.
“We tried to use whatever we had to put out the fire until the firefighters came, but they got here 30 minutes later,” he said.
Several other traders said the firefighters were probably also caught up watching the football match.
Adj. Sr. Comr. Sabar Supriyono, the Balikpapan Police chief, said police were investigating the cause of the fire. A preliminary inspection indicated that it began from an electrical short circuit.
Balikpapan Mayor Rizal Effendi said the city would rebuild the market.
“We need to identify first the damage from the fire before calculating how much we need to rebuild the market,” he said.