A large fire on Thursday night in the Groningen city of Winschoten destroyed a vacant commercial property, caused major damage to an adjacent building and is believed to have released asbestos fibres.
Translation by Traci White
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that fire fighters worked through the night to contain the blaze, which appears to have started in an unoccupied commercial property at Langestraat 69. The 250-year-old building was destroyed by the fire and has been an empty storefront since 2008.
Residents in the vicinity told authorities that they heard a loud series of pops prior to the blaze, and the police are considering the possibility that the fire was arson caused by fireworks. The building next door, which used to house a Dixons electronics store, was also seriously damaged.
As of Friday morning, it does not appear that anyone was injured or killed by the blaze, which was first reported around 9:30 on Thursday night. The municipality of Oldambt is warning residents to avoid walking or driving through the area on Friday due to the likelihood that asbestos fibres were released by the fire.
— Van Oost Media (@vanoostmedia) January 3, 2019
The buildings on the shopping street in Winschoten, which has around 18,000 residents, are very tightly packed. Many shops remained closed on Friday morning until they could be inspected for damage.
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