Fire yesterday blazed through the Kumasi Central Market, leaving in its wake massive destruction of stalls and wares, including foodstuffs, footwear, cooking utensils, drums of edible oil and clothing.
The inferno brought the business hub of the metropolis to a standstill as personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) had a difficult time gaining access to the scene and tracing water hydrants due to congestion at the market and the haphazard manner tables, shops and stalls had been arranged or constructed both in front of the market and in the market itself.
The firefighters however managed to gain access to the blazing fire and battled it all afternoon, heavy smoke still oozing out by press time.
As the firemen battled the blazing fire, the outskirts were a scene of sorrow, anguish and pain as scores of traders, mostly women, who had lost valuable items and goods screamed, sobbed or wept uncontrollably.
Some of the traders lay sprawled on the road in front of the market as they mourned their losses, drawing a large crowd to the scene.
An elderly woman who could not contain her loss of an unspecified amount of money and goods screamed, “God, I am finished!”, as she was led away and consoled by friends and relations.
The cause of the fire could not immediately be established but it started at about 2:00pm when business activity was at its peak and razed from behind the main storey building to the western end of the market close to the railway line and in the area popularly referred to as "Eighteen mu".
By 5:30pm, about a quarter of the market, said to be the biggest in West Africa had been completely burnt down.
Some traders in haste to salvage their goods unpacked them from their stores and rushed them out of the market.
Personnel of the Ambulance Service were on standby to provide medical assistance to casualties whilst the police were also around to maintain law and order, as well as protect life and property. It had not been established whether there were any casualties at the time of filing this report.
Business activities came to a standstill as traders, commuters and customers ran helter-skelter to avoid the inferno.
Some traders claimed they spotted the fire in the area of the bag dealers and within minutes it had torched many stores and shops.
Successive Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executives have announced plans to pull down old structures of the market which is susceptible to fire outbreaks to make way for new and modern one but nothing concrete has been down over the years.