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Fires claim at least 10 lives in first five months of 2021

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Fire destroyed a warehouse of Cambodian traders at Rong Kluea Market in Thailand on June 14. Police

Fires claim at least 10 lives in first five months of 2021

At least 10 people have been killed and 16 injured in fires across the country in this year’s first five months, according to data obtained by The Post from the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

The data on the impacts and damage caused by the fires shows that during this period, there were 234 fires that damaged 231 houses, 67 market stalls, eight warehouses, eight factories, 17 public administration buildings and three schools. Fires also destroyed eight plantations and damaged seven forests.

Kampot province is considered a “model” province for fire prevention, with only one fire this year that damaged one house. Phnom Penh has the highest number of fires and the most damage in the country, followed by Battambang, according to the document.

The province with the highest number of fatalities was Kampong Chhnang with five dead and one injured, while Phnom Penh has two dead and 12 injured.

The Ministry of Interior’s Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue director Neth Vantha said: “Most of the fires are caused by explosions, electrical problems and carelessness by landlords, plantation owners, unit owners and business owners.”

“The rescue operations of our fire fighters are still limited due to the lack of modern fire trucks and safety equipment for them,” he said.

The national police on June 14 provided a fire engine to the fire department to help the fire fighters carry out their duties, especially in putting out fires at warehouses, factories, enterprises and highrise buildings in Phnom Penh.

The national police also provided another fire engine to the Phnom Penh municipal administration for rescues and general fire fighting operations.

According to Vantha, these fire engines have more capacity than the engines that Cambodia has used in the past. They can hold 8,000 litres of water and spray water quickly from a height of more than 30 metres.

He called on residents and authorities to remain vigilant in the event of fires, which can occur during the rainy season or the dry season, noting that every house should have first aid kits and basic equipment such as fire extinguishers.

“In order to prevent fires, we should regularly inspect and repair any part of the electrical wiring that is deficient or not up to technical standards. Turn off lights and unplug devices when they are not in use and turn off gas stoves, and thoroughly extinguish fires after cooking or burning grass and kitchen waste,” he said.

Two warehouses belonging to Cambodian traders in Rong Kluea Market at the Thai border were destroyed by fire on the night of June 14.

According to Thai authorities, the fire was most likely caused by an electrical fault. But Thai police were still investigating at this time according to Cambodian market vendors there.

“The warehouses that caught fire were K72 and K73. Cambodian traders rented them to store carpets and clothes,” said Bun Heng, a clothing trader in the market.

He said the damage was estimated at over 5 million baht ($16,000), but it is unknown whether Thai authorities, market owners or any other party will compensate the Cambodian traders should they be deemed responsible.

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