A fire that broke out early Friday morning in Phnom Penh destroyed the homes of five families and about 500 pieces of artwork from the well-known JavaArts gallery on Sihanouk Boulevard.
The fire started just after midnight in a second-story kitchen in a small apartment building behind Java Cafe & Gallery and quickly spread, waking the residents, said Chan Sopath, 53, who lives at the other end of the building.
The cause of the fire, which destroyed five apartments and left four severely damaged, is still unknown, according to Tem Vuthy, deputy police chief of Tonle Bassac commune, where the building is located.
Below the apartment where the fire started, the administrative office of JavaArts was badly damaged and many artworks and documents were unsalvageable, said Dana Langlois, the gallery’s founding director.
She said around 500 paintings were destroyed and that the gallery’s entire digital archive was missing in the debris and feared destroyed.
“I just think about the loss to the community, because it’s just an incredible amount of knowledge and history and records of artwork that’s just gone,” she said.