More than 100 shops were destroyed in a massive fire that broke out at a souq in Ajman on Wednesday.
The fire began at the Iranian souq, in Ajman's new industrial area, at about 6.30pm, sending plumes of black smoke billowing over the emirate.
Almost 100 firefighters, including crew from Dubai, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain helped extinguish the blaze by 9pm.
Nobody was hurt but damage to the souq, which had been closed for four months to prevent the spread of Covid-19, was extensive.
On Thursday, Brig Abdulaziz Al Shamsi, director-general of the emirate's civil defence, said 125 shops in the popular souq were destroyed.
"The civil defence teams controlled the fire but the cooling process is still ongoing,” he said.
Flammable objects stored in the market are believed to have exacerbated the fire's quick spread.
“The massive fire and heavy smoke were caused by the nature of products stored in shops, which are made of plastic, sponge and cotton,” said Brig Al Shamsi. This prompted the evacuation of nearby Ajman Speciality Hospital on Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
An investigation into what started the fire, which caused parts of the market to collapse, is under way.
The souq, which is home to dozens of traders, is a popular attraction in Ajman, drawing visitors from across the Emirates.
Rajab Elsawi, who owns Khadem Fresh Meat shop opposite the souq, called emergency services after he saw a thick plume of black smoke rising.
He helped remove road barriers to allow fire crews access to the scene.
"It is a one-way road and barriers were placed to stop drivers from travelling against the flow of traffic, so I removed them to facilitate access for civil defence and police vehicles.
"There are dozens of shops in that souq."
Another worker, who asked not to be named, said several people tried to put it out the fire with extinguishers from their shops but were unable to contain the rapidly-spreading flames.