$1M Damage as Blaze Guts Siem Reap Market

A fire sparked by an electrical fault ripped through the Doeum Kralanh market in Siem Reap City early Friday morning destroying 200 stalls and causing more than $1 million in damage, according to market traders and police officials.

The 8,000-square-meter market in Kokchak commune housed a total of 400 stalls and is operated by a private owner who rents the land from the government, said Siem Reap City police chief Tith Narong.

“The fire was caused by an electricity circuit at about 1:40 a.m. Fire­fighters and 10 fire trucks tackled the fire until 5 a.m. when the flames were finally extinguished, but they were only able to save 200 of the stalls,” Mr. Narong said, adding that there were no injuries in the blaze.

On Sunday, the 157 vendors who owned the 200 ruined stalls went to file reports with deputy Siem Reap City governor So Platong and seek assistance in securing compensation from the owner for the loss of their goods, which Mr. Narong estimated to be worth about $1.1 million.

Mr. Platong said Sunday that the firefighters tried their best to save the stalls but were hampered in their efforts to extinguish the fire by the tightly packed market’s narrow pathways, which were strung with tangles of electrified power cables.

“Our first assumption is that this fire was caused by a faulty electricity circuit, but police are continuing to investigate the cause,” he said.

This is not the first time a market in the tourist city has been blitzed by lax safety measures.

In December, eight people, in­cluding four children, were killed when a blaze—also caused by an electrical fault—tore through Siem Reap’s popular night market.

And in Phnom Penh last July, a similar fire in Tuol Sangke market destroyed 57 homes and a large proportion of the vendors’ businesses.

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