Officials from the Ministry of the Royal Palace are working to renovate a building that caught fire on the compound of the largely symbolic Royal Residence in Siem Reap town on the night of March 12.

In Ratha Serey, an adviser to the ministry, said the officials were dismantling the building that was almost completely damaged by the late-night blaze.

“At this time, our team is dismantling the roof and clearing up the debris from the premise of the building. We will renovate it as soon as possible,” he said.

He noted that apart from the building and some materials such as tables, chairs, sofas and carpets, no important historical or archaeological items were destroyed by the fire.

“All of us, the people and officials at all levels, were deeply saddened by this horrific fire incident. This small palace in Siem Reap is historically related to the crusade of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk in the struggle for national independence from France in the 1950s,” he stated.

Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, who is presently in Beijing for medical check-ups, issued a March 14 message describing the historical relationship of the Royal Residence in Siem Reap and the crusade for independence from France.

She noted that the residence is more than 70 years old and has great historical and national importance related to the struggle for independence when Sihanouk went abroad to lobby countries including France, Canada, the US, Japan and Thailand.

The late King Father, she said, had led the struggle with the active and courageous participation of the people of all walks of life and without bloodshed.

“Between June and November 1953, I had the great honour of marching with the Father of Independence in the aforementioned historical crusades in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Battambang provinces, which were autonomous regions at that time, until the complete success of an independent motherland as a whole on November 9, 1953,” said her message.

The Queen Mother expressed profound thanks to her subjects and to foreigners who expressed their condolences for the fire.

She also deeply thanked the leadership and the minister of the royal palace and local authorities, members of the armed forces and the firefighters and provincial council for their immediate intervention.

“At the request of royal palace minister Kong Sam Ol, a new building for the Royal Residence will be renovated in the near future,” she said.