By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – SATURDAY 16 JANUARY 2016: It is a sad day for owners of stalls and shops at the Savalalo Flea market when they watched in vain as fire consumed the building and everything in it.
Several stall owners who were around the area when the fire started managed to save little of their material goods but the rest that left early today, could only watch the blazing fire and black smoke rising.
According to witnesses, the fire started just after 7.00pm and did not think it would quickly reach the stage it did.
The whole market is gutted along with the economy of the stall owners who depended on their daily sales at the stalls and shops.
According to the Fire Emergency Services Authority (FESA) team, it is too early to determine what caused the fire, but suspicion weighs heavily on an electrical fault or a gas stove from a restaurant if gauged by the speed the fire spread inside and gutted the whole building.
FESA responded to the call at around 7.30pm and the siren went off twice indicating the seriousness of the fire and the call for more help.
The destruction will really affect the income of stall owners and vendors as the market was very popular with overseas visitors and tourists.
“This is my family’s life… I cannot think how we are going to survive,” said Matalena Lafaialii.
Matalena’s tears flow slowly as she remembers the struggle her family went through as they tried to make ends meet.
The business was started by her late parents and money from selling handicrafts put her and her siblings through school.
Matalena’s family business of handicraft started 30 years ago when she and her siblings started selling ula pu’a and taulima laumei at hotels and tourists in town.
“Orders started coming in from handicraft shops and since then, the family business started to excel beyond my parents dream,” said Matalena.
Other shop owners did not want to comment but are angry at who ever was responsible for their loss.
A full report of the fire will be finalised after investigation, said FESA officials.