Two people are dead and over 700 stands completely destroyed after a fire tore through Mexico City’s La Merced market on Christmas Eve.
The La Merced Market is a traditional public market located in the eastern edge of the historic center of Mexico City and is one of the largest retails traditional food markets in the entire city.
Authorities have determined that the fire, which started around 8:00pm on Tuesday December 24th, was not intentionally lit.
“It couldn’t have been started [intentionally], there are no signs of activities other than those of the vendors,” said Economic Development Secretary Fadlala Akabani Hneide. “It was an accident, overheating in the electrical network.”Akabani estimated that the repairs will take about a year to complete but will be carried out without removing the vendors elsewhere, as long as there is no structural damage.
“If there are no structural damages we’ll be able to do the repairs in stages, without removing [vendors] from the market, beginning where the fire started and later extending out to other areas,” he said.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum visited the market on Wednesday to assess the damage. She and other city authorities don’t expect to find any structural damage and plan on beginning the gradual restoration process soon.
Akabani said the 1,240 vendors affected by fire damage will receive monthly unemployment benefits of 2,500 pesos (US $132), as well as interest-free loans up to 25,000 pesos (US $1,318) to get their businesses going again.
“The tenants have behaved well, responding with solidarity. They participated in fighting the fire and we have agreed on the formation of work groups,” he said.
After this and another fire in the city’s San Cosme market the day before, also believed to have been caused by faulty electrical infrastructure, the Mexico City government has announced that it will inspect the electrical installations in all of the city’s 329 markets.