• Kyodo

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The municipal government of Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture, on Saturday lifted an evacuation advisory for residents in the areas hit by a massive fire that injured 11 people Thursday and destroyed some 150 buildings.

Ahead of the lifting of the advisory, the government of the coastal city on the Sea of Japan allowed residents of most of the affected areas back in to check on their homes and property. But the government left the area nearest the origin of the blaze — a ramen noodle restaurant — a no-entry zone.

The fire, which broke out at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, forced hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes and prompted the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces. It was not completely put out until Friday afternoon, about 30 hours after it started.

The Itoigawa city government had advised 744 people from 363 households to evacuate, and more than 30 were still taking shelter at two locations as of Saturday morning.

The fire destroyed 40,000 sq. meters of the city, according to the municipal government.

Police and firefighters have finished investigating the area around the noodle restaurant where the fire started, they said.

The Niigata Prefectural Government has sent a team of seven officials to support the local government’s reconstruction efforts. Those officials will assess the city’s needs before the prefectural government sends a full-fledged support team, it said.

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