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Fires on the rise this year, 23 killed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Passersby look at the aftermath of a fire that razed houses in Phsar Doeum Thkov commune, in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district on Tuesday. There were 872 fires in Cambodia in the first 10 months of this year, with 23 reported deaths. Hong Menea

Fires on the rise this year, 23 killed

There were 872 fires in Cambodia in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 110 cases compared to the same period last year, according to a report from the National Police’s Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue.

“Twenty-three people were killed in the fires, an increase of six from the same period last year. The number of injured, however, was 97, a decrease of 46,” the report showed.

Fire caused damage to 654 houses and 505 market stalls, an increase of 78 houses and 123 stalls compared to the same period last year.

Phnom Penh had the highest number of fires at 114 cases followed by the provinces of Kandal at 92 and Siem Reap at 76. Separately, Kampot, Kep, Pailin, Kratie, Stung Treng, and Preah Vihear provinces have not had any fires for the past 10 months.

Department director Neth Vantha on November 10 reiterated his call for residents, especially those in Phnom Penh, to be more vigilant.

“Forty per cent of all fires are caused by electrical explosions and 39 per cent are caused by careless use of fire [cookers, candles, bonfires, incense]. The remaining 21 per cent are still under investigation.

According to Vantha, during the fall, which brings cold weather to some provinces in the northeast and the Dangrek mountain range, as well as the central plains areas, people may light fires to ward off the cold temperatures. This causes more fires if people are not careful and do not put out the flames before they leave.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A fire raze houses in Phnom Penh’s Phsar Doeum Thkov commune on Tuesday. Municipal Fire Department

While urging police to create technical training courses in fire prevention, Vantha also encouraged people to buy fire extinguishers to prevent fires in homes. He said people should not burn grass or forest this season, because strong winds can cause debris to touch other people’s houses, igniting fire.

Ung Yulay, head of the unit for dissemination of Fire Prevention information under the Oddar Meanchey provincial Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue bureau, led officers on November 10 to educate people and vendors at Samrong Market on how to use and maintain a fire extinguisher, as well as other fire fighting methods.

“Fire fighting is not easy, it requires patience and courage. The problem is black smoke and hot flames can affect health and life if we do not have enough technical equipment to help,” he said.

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