Shopping center fire in Groningen town; over 100 evacuated

A Dutch Firetruck in action on the heathland near Ede P.J.L Laurens/Wikimedia Commons

Over a hundred people were evacuated from their homes due to a major fire in a shopping center in the Groningen town of Musselkanaal. The fire started in a bicycle shop around 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night and quickly spread to other stores. The fire is still burning, but firefighters have it under control, NOS reports.

"There will soon be a crane on site to pull down the walls, so we can extinguish better", a spokesperson for the fire brigade said to the broadcaster. The shopping center contains nine stores and restaurants.

A total of 85 people were evacuated from an adjacent residential care center due to smoke. The residents of 24 other houses also had to leave their homes. "The evacuation was fantastic", the spokesperson said. "Many volunteers came to help." Some of the evacuated residents were taken in by family members, others were sheltered at another location of the care center.

According to the fire brigade, the fire is difficult to extinguish due to the layout of the shopping center. "It's a compact shopping center", the spokesperson said. "We can work around the building, but at one point the fire moved inside. Then we could only try to prevent the fire from spreading further." He expects that the extinguishing will take until Friday afternoon.