Polish shopping centre destroyed by fire

On Sunday 12 May 2024 at around 3:15 am, the Warsaw fire brigade was alerted to a fire at Marywilska 44, a large shopping centre in the Bialoleka district of the Polish capital.

One of the largest shopping centres in Warsaw, the complex in the north of the city covered 80,000 m2, with 1,400 stores and a large indoor market.

Responding to the blaze, the fire service deployed more than 200 firefighters across 50 teams, with chemical and environmental rescue specialists called in, as large plumes of smoke issued forth from the intense fire. City authorities used the emergency text warning system to message local residents, advising them to stay in their homes and not to open windows.

Drone footage shows the extent of the incident, with the roof caving in. The extent of the damage was later confirmed at a news conference by Mariusz Feltynowski, commander-in-chief of the State Fire Service, who said:

"Almost 100% of it was burned. The fire is being extinguished and this will take many hours, perhaps several hours."

No injuries were reported by police as large shops are prohibited from opening on Sunday, but many of the store owners and vendors lost everything in the blaze. The Gazeta Wyborcza reported that security guards had to block some owners from attempting to enter the burning building to save their stock. A large number of the store and kiosk owners were from Vietnam, with the Association of Vietnamese Entrepreneurs in Poland commenting that there would be “great financial losses for merchants,” as a result of this “terrible tragedy for thousands of merchants and their families.”

An investigation into the cause of the fire has been opened by the District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw-Prague, with questions being raised by fire experts as to how the fire was able to take hold and spread so quickly.