Firefighters battle a massive blaze in downtown Itoigawa city, Niigata Prefecture, on Dec. 22. (Provided by reader)

ITOIGAWA, Niigata Prefecture--Authorities here said 140 or so houses and commercial buildings were engulfed in flames after a fire at a ramen restaurant kitchen spread to the city's downtown area Dec. 22.

The inferno, fanned by strong ocean-blowing winds, took hold around 10:30 a.m. By late afternoon, firefighters were still trying to contain the blaze.

Only two minor injuries have been reported so far.

City authorities issued an evacuation advisory for 586 residents in 273 households at 12:20 p.m.

The fire apparently started in the city’s Omachi district, and quickly spread, according to the Itoigawa Police Station and the city’s firefighting headquarters.

Flames scorched a 300-meter tract of land between the source of the fire and the coastline to the north, and about 140 buildings were burning in the dense downtown area, as of 4:45 p.m.