• Kyodo

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A nearly two-week fire that crippled an Askul Corp. warehouse in Saitama Prefecture was likely caused by a forklift that unintentionally peeled out on some cardboard during loading, sources said.

While loading cardboard onto a truck in a cardboard storage space, the forklift driver said the machine’s rear tires skidded so violently on loose cardboard on the floor that it created smoke, which apparently led to the fire, the sources said Wednesday.

The local fire department received a call from an employee of the office goods supplier on Feb. 16 who reported that cardboard boxes were on fire at the three-story facility in the town of Miyoshi.

The blaze consumed nearly two-thirds of the logistics warehouse’s 72,000 sq. meters of floor space before it was extinguished at 5 p.m. Tuesday — 12 days after it started, the Saitama Prefectural Government said.

During the operation, firefighters were stymied by the lack of exterior access points. A small explosion inside also briefly forced them to evacuate. People living in the vicinity were also advised to flee.

Askul had to reject online orders for about 30,000 products because of the fire, the Tokyo-based company said last week.

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