Fire Ravages Haiti’s Historic Iron Market in Port-au-Prince

Haiti’s capital of Port au Prince suffered a blow to one of its iconic attractions this week as the city’s historic Marché en Fer—popularly known as Hyppolite Market or the Iron Market—was severely damaged in a late-night fire said to have started from nearby burning garbage.

The fire raged from late Monday evening through Tuesday morning and destroyed one of the structure’s two large market halls. The intensity of the blaze also caused a partial collapse of the metal structure, according to international and local press reports.

Firefighters and citizens worked through midday Tuesday to extinguish the flames. The market hall was one of two that employs more than 900 traders spread across scores of stalls and small retail shops that sell produce, hardware, gifts, art, Vodou paraphernalia and commercial items of nearly every type.

The government has not issued an estimate of the merchants’ losses, which are certain to be “considerable” in the words of one observer. The historic structure has long been a draw for both tourists and visitors and local Haitians.

Built in France, the main structure was designed as part of railway station bound for Cairo. But that agreement fell through, leading Haitian president Florvil Hyppolite to purchase the structure in 1891.

The market was previously struck by fire in 2008 and then leveled by the 2010 earthquake. It was rebuilt in 2011 to match its original specifications.

Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise, visited the site Tuesday. The nation’s leader said on Twitter he was “enormously saddened” by the news of the fire. “I think of all those who have lost their livelihood.”

SOURCE: Travel Pulse – Brian Major