The cost of the fire that destroyed the Heng Heng Mattress Factory in Meanchey district’s Boeung Tompun I commune in the capital on Friday could be as high as $3 million, Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khuong Sreng said on Sunday.
Firefighters in 45 engines fought the blaze for hours using 261 water trucks before it was brought under control, but two buildings – one six-storey and one four – were razed to the ground.
National Committee for Disaster Management first vice-president Kun Kim, who led firefighters in the operation, told The Post on Sunday that the blaze had been brought under control before it spread to other properties.
The fire-damaged buildings were being torn down to prevent their collapse.
“The buildings’ frames were ruined in the fire. We have dismantled the four-storey building housing the mattress factory.
“We will now dismantle the six-storey building. We managed to bring the fire under control before it could spread to other properties,” Kim said.
Sreng said on Sunday that while the authorities were disappointed not to have been able to rescue residents’ belongings, no lives had been lost.
“It is too early to tell exactly how much damage was done, but it could be more than $3 million. However, the main thing is that the fire did not claim any lives,” Sreng said.
Deputy municipal governor Suy Serith, who took part in the operation, said on Sunday that authorities were using machinery to tear down the damaged buildings, with only the six-storey one remaining.
“We used four big machines to demolish the damaged buildings so neighbouring properties would not be affected,” he said.
Some 200 Phnom Penh Municipal Administration and National Committee for Disaster Management personnel also took part in the operation.
“We expect that the six-storey building will be completely demolished on Monday,” Serith said.
A National Police report said the fire in the building owned by 63-year-old Kan Chantha was caused by an electrical fault.
Chantha declined to comment to The Post on Sunday.
Plumes of smoke from the fire were visible as far away as Wat Phnom.
A resident living across from the factory told The Post that the fire was the third to occur at the facility in four years – with the latest one being the largest as the first two had burned out on their own.
Vechna Som Sovan, a veteran fireman of 12 years, said it was fortunate the fire broke out in the afternoon.
“If it had happened during the night when people were sleeping, maybe it would have been worse and people could have been hurt,” he said.
Police officials and firefighters credited the collective efforts of neighbours and factory workers from the neighbourhood in helping to contain the blaze.