Fire damages Tokyo's famous Golden-gai district

 12 Apr 2016 - 14:24

Fire damages Tokyo's famous Golden-gai district
Firefighters gather at the scene of a blaze at the Golden Gai alley in the Shinjuku district in Tokyo on April 12, 2016. Dozens of fire trucks on April 12 rushed to extinguish a blaze at a beloved Tokyo bar district that gutted four buildings. / AFP / KAZUHIRO NOGI

Tokyo: Dozens of fire trucks on Tuesday rushed to extinguish a blaze which gutted four buildings in a famed Tokyo bar district.

Firefighters struggled for several hours to contain the flames and smoke rising from windows and corrugated metal roofs in the densely packed Golden-gai district, TV footage showed.

Golden-gai is a roughly 2,000 square-metre (21,520 square-foot) patch of land in Tokyo's bustling Kabukicho entertainment area, which is known for its small alleyways and lanes packed with hundreds of tiny bars and eating establishments.

The fire began around 1:20 pm, according to the Tokyo Fire Department, and was put out four hours later with the help of 40 fire trucks and a helicopter. 

Two people were slightly hurt.

Jiji Press said six establishments were housed in the damaged wooden buildings.

"There were flames coming out and the fire was spreading over the electrical wires," said Daizen Ishiba, a 45-year-old bar owner in the district. "The smoke was really terrible."

Sitting just blocks from nearby skyscrapers, Golden-gai offers a sense of Tokyo in the 1970s, when young artists, writers and actors were drawn to its bohemian atmosphere and cheap drinks.

"There are people who have run their establishments for 40 or 50 years," Ishiba said. "They share a mutual feeling to create a good neighbourhood."