Three victims reported this year

Erbil sees rise in fire-related incidents since start of 2024

ERBIL — Erbil has witnessed a surge in fire incidents during the first quarter of 2024, with officials reporting 208 fires that have claimed three lives and caused billions of dinars in property damage.

Karwan Mirawdali, spokesperson for Erbil Civil Defense, revealed the concerning figures, which covered the period from Jan. 1 to March 21. The fires not only resulted in fatalities but also inflicted significant property losses.

Among those killed was a police officer who died from smoke inhalation en route to a hospital. Another person perished in a fire triggered by a gas cylinder explosion, while a third died in a vehicle fire.

Two major incidents during this period stood out for their devastating economic impact.

The Feb. 27 fire at Erbil’s Langa Market destroyed 160 shops and caused damages exceeding 6 billion dinars ($4.6 million).

On March 9, another blaze engulfed two large warehouses storing appliances and construction materials, with initial investigations estimating losses at  6.6 billion dinars ($5 million). However, the warehouse owners assessed their losses at nearly double the investigators’ estimate at 13 billion dinars ($10 million).

Mirawdali identified electrical short circuits as a major cause for incidents around Erbil, accounting for 40% of reported fires this year, highlighting a critical area for improved safety measures.

A separate incident involving six warehouses storing cleaning supplies occurred along the Erbil-Kirkuk road on March 27. The owner estimated damages at 1.3 billion ($1 million). The fire remains under investigation and was not included in the first-quarter statistics.

Erbil governorate reported over 1,720 fires in 2023, resulting in 15 fatalities.