Fire Destroys 12 Stalls on Market Ground Floor

Fire wiped out 12 stalls in Phnom Penh’s Phsar O’Russei Sunday, but authorities had yet to determine a cause for the blaze, officials said Monday.

The fire broke out around 8:30 pm on the ground floor of the market, destroying stalls, most of which specialized in traditional Khmer wedding clothes and plastic flowers, Phnom Penh Mun­icipal Forensic Police Chief Prach Nhat said.

Some evidence indicated a gas stove may have blown up, while there were other suggestions that electrical wires short-circuited, Prach Nhat said.

The fire did an estimated $49,150 in damage to the clothing and stalls, security police at the market said Monday.

“My stall was completely burned. All of my goods cost $3,800 and now my pockets have been emptied,” plastic flower vendor You Pheng, 46, said.

While vendors whose lives were destroyed by the fire have be­gun pressuring the market’s managers for aid, officials there were waiting to determine the cause of the blaze and to assign blame, O’Russei manager Keang Leak said.

“We will solve these problems after the results of the police for­ensics investigation comes to our office,” Keang Leak said.

Authorities are already looking at the owner of a food stall near the clothing booths as the potential culprit. The owner of the food stall did not show up at the market Monday morning, Keang Leak said.

Sunday’s fire was the first to strike the market, which was built in 2000, officials said.

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