Seven People Hospitalized Following Fire in Insa-dong

A huge fire in Insa-dong on Sunday damaged six buildings and sent seven people, including one Japanese tourist, to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

"The fire appears to have started at a bar in Insa-dong and triggered gas explosions that made the situation worse," one firefighter said.

Witnesses said they saw five to six explosions at the scene.

The narrow alleys typical of Insa-dong made it difficult for fire trucks to approach the fire. "We were able to drive our fire engines through one of the three alleys leading to the scene of the fire. We could only drive small fire engines through the alley, making it tough to fight the fire early on," the firefighter said.

In total, 62 fire engines and 170 firefighters converged on the scene, but only seven trucks could approach the fire, which took nearly two hours to contain.

The affected establishments were closed on Sunday, and the seven people who were taken to the hospital were staying at a nearby guesthouse.

Insa-dong is a major tourist attraction in central Seoul that attracts an average of 100,000 visitors each day.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 18, 2013 10:29 KST