A fire broke out at the Central Bank of Algeria this week, causing devastating damage to the storage room and minting facilities.
The fire was first witnessed by people on the Rue de la Fusillés, who notified the fire department of thick smoke wafting from the building. The bank, located in the El-Anassers (Ruisseau) district of Algiers, has not revealed the origin of the fire, but a team of forensics is on site searching for answers.
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The fire spread quickly, destroying a repository of 1,000 – 2,000 square meters in minutes. The area that was burned housed raw materials for the production of banknotes; the bank has not released a statement regarding the extent of the damage, but it can be assumed that it is quite large.
Commander Achour, one of the primary officials on-site, said, “The priority was to protect the production line. Given the lack of space, the fire department was unable to utilize all available means of intervention.”
Despite the fact that the fire department sent 20 teams to the site, the fire reduced the entire deposit to ashes. Roughly 30 tankers and 240 men were mobilized to the scene immediately. The areas affected are rumored to include not only the storage depot, but also portions of the administrative offices and printing department.
Emergency teams have remained on-site to control any subsequent gas or chemical explosions.
Some French commentators have responded with incredulity, believing that the fire was a scam set up by officials to enable them to steal banknotes from the Central Bank. Others believe that the fire is representative of the failing infrastructure that is not being renovated by the government, and are appalled that minting facilities do not have fire-safety features in place.
While the Bank of Algeria has yet to make a statement, the damage caused is severe and will have significant effects on Algeria’s economy and currency.