TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS I ERWIN SUPANDI
The traditional trade center Pasar Klewer, Solo, inaugurated in 1971 and had over time gained prominence as both commercial and cultural place of the city, was razed by fire on 27 December, devastating most part of the 2-storey building. It was one of the first textile markets in Indonesia, and later developed into one of the biggest. Over 1500 kiosks were burnt overnight, causing hundreds of million dollars in losses and over 3000 unemployed. This dealt a serious blow to the city’s economy to the point that Vice President Jusuf Kalla tasked the Solo municipals to relocate the business within 3 weeks even though it would cost some twenty million dollars, and set up the 1-year time schedule to rebuild the market. Many were skeptical as speeding up the project definitely adds hundreds of million dollars extra cost, since it is not simply a task of rebuilding, but reviving the historical aspect of Pasar Klewer, which shared similar iconic status with other textile markets such as Pasar Beringharjo in Yogyakarta, or Pasar Aur Kuning in Bukittinggi.
But putting aside the future plan and the damage analysis, the epic response at a time of the blaze has a noteworthy story for the nation. There was a huge concerted effort to put out the fire. As the local police helped the fireman by dispatching vehicles equipped with water cannon, other helps suddenly came into the city from the outside. Fire departments of surrounding areas, from Klaten, Sukoharjo, Womogiri, Boyolali, Karanganyar, Salatiga to Semarang rolled out into the site, putting down most of the fire before dawn. There was a sporadic fire left in a few parts of the building, but the sense of danger had subsided. And then it turned to a sense of gloomy and exasperation the faces of the shop owners and the officers on duty. As the day came, a sense of curiosity and spectacle arrived on the site, as the crowd watched the final part of the whole tragedy show.