100 Families Homeless, Fire Blamed on Sauce

Chung Ky Ngien stood and surveyed the piles of bricks, burnt wood and twisted metal that used to be the houses of the neighborhood in which he had lived for the past 25 years. On Thurs­­day night, a fire ripped through Chroy Bassac village.

Residents of Chroy Bassac, located in Meanchey district’s Prek Pra commune, were sleeping or preparing for bed around 9:30 pm when the fire erupted. No one was hurt, but the blaze left almost 100 families homeless and wondering what the future holds.

While many families have gone to stay with friends and relatives, Chung Ky Ngien and his family have stayed. They are surviving off a 20-kg bag of rice, and possess only some mosquito nets, pillows, tarps and $25 in emergency funds donated by the government. It has helped for now, but no one knows what’s in store for the long-term.

“I never expected this,” Chung Ky Ngien said Monday.

The villagers say the fire started at the nearby Golden Eagle fish sauce factory, though local officials are still investigating their claim.

“I’d heard from the villagers that the fire started in the factory, but I can­not conclude that without any proof,” Chuop Sitha, Prek Pra’s com­mune chief said Monday. “That is why we are still investigating.”

“The priority now is to find food and proper shelters for those victims,” he added.

Chung Ky Ngien and others say they want compensation from the owner of the fish sauce factory, but that may prove to be a difficult task.

Mao Sarun, a technician at the fac­tory, said the owner has left the city. He added that he didn’t know how the fire started.

, only that authorities are investigating.

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