TRADERS at Chiwempala market in Chingola yesterday woke up to a rude shock as fire swept through their shops and stalls, reducing them to rubble.
The fire broke out around 02:00 hours and was only quenched by a combined team of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Chingola Municipal Council fire brigade.
Some of the traders interviewed said they had lost all their goods in the inferno and did not know how it started .
A trader, Marjory Katongo, said most of the restaurants were made of wooden materials and that owners slept in the same shops.
She suepcetd the fire could have started from one of the restaurants because some traders slept within the premises to guard their merchandise with braziers on.
Ms Katongo said the fire started around 02:00 hours and suspected that it could have been as a result of negligence.
Meanwhile, Chiwempala Market crime prevention unit committee chairperson, Willy Sinyinza, said in a separate interview that he suspected that the inferno started from a makeshift restaurant.
Mr Sinyinza said the inferno also swept through some of the hardware shops on the eastern side of the market near the rail line and reduced all of them to ashes.
He said at least 26 shops at the market were burnt along with goods while some traders managed to salvage some items.
He appealed to the affected marketeers to remain calm as police, council and other stakeholders were on the ground investigating the matter.
And Chingola Mayor Titus Tembo has described the incident as unfortunate calamity that has befallen the mining town.
Recently, fire gutted the COMESA market in Lusaka while in Mufulira Buteko market was also reduced to ashes as was another market in Rufunsa.