A large fire has engulfed scores of houses, shops, and other buildings in the Japanese coastal city of Itoigawa. The blaze, which started mid-morning local time, shows no sign of slowing, and fire crews are frantically working to put out the flames.

Advertisement

Evacuation orders have been issued for hundreds of nearby houses, and the military has been called in to help. Incredibly, there are only two reports of injuries. The blaze, which is being fueled by 55 mph (90 km) winds coming in from the Sea of Japan, went through a shopping area before spreading to nearby homes.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but early reports suggest it started in a Chinese restaurant. Dramatic aerial footage showed large flames and thick smoke spewing out of the buildings. A total of 17 fire trucks have been deployed in the area.

Itoigawa has a population of 44,680 and is located on Japan’s west coast. “Sparks of fire flew around,” a witness told NHK. “That’s why far away buildings unexpectedly caught fire and it became large-scale. I’ve never seen something like this before.”

[NHK, Reuters via CBC, Guardian, Associated Press via ABC News]