Fire that spread to 140 buildings now under control in Japan

Published 9:55 am Thursday, December 22, 2016

TOKYO — A huge fire that spread to about 140 buildings in a small city on Japan’s western coast was brought under control Thursday night after authorities called in extra firefighters to fight the blaze.

The fire started in the morning at a ramen shop in Itoigawa city, Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Fanned by winds gusting to 56 kilometers (35 miles) per hour, the fire had reached about 140 houses and other buildings by midafternoon. Fire and rescue units from nearby prefectures were brought in to help and the blaze was finally brought under control late Thursday, more than 10 hours after it was detected.

There were two reports of minor injuries, one woman who inhaled smoke and another who fell, the fire and disaster agency said. Authorities issued an evacuation advisory for more than 740 people at 360 homes designated as high risk.

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The ramen shop was in a shopping arcade northwest of the city’s main train station, the area crowded with old wooden houses, according to Kyodo News.

Itoigawa is on the Japan Sea coast in Niigata prefecture, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) northwest of Tokyo. The cause of the fire is under investigation.