Fire Destroys House, Four Shops Outside City

A row of four attached shops and one residence burned to the ground Sunday morning in Stung Meanchey commune, Meanchey district, outside of the capital. No one was hurt, Commune Chief Seng Sanh said.

“This month my commune has had two gasoline fires. These people were careless of the gasoline. They liked to keep it inside their house,” he said.

The blaze started in a motorbike repair shop after a hot engine ignited a can of fuel. A car wash, two coffee shops and the landowner’s house were also destroyed.

“Three times [recently] there were fires in my district, but the biggest was the Grandtex factory fire last week,” Meanchey District Governor Chhun Choun said Sunday. “It injured 13 people, but as of today I have not gotten any report about dead people under the building’s debris. But a joint com­mittee will be established [today] to investigate.”

Meanchey’s Deputy Governor Em Sokleng will head the joint-committee but district police will lead the investigation of the fire that leveled the four-story Grand­tex International garment factory to charred heaps several meters high. Court officials, the Ministry of Land Management and Urban Planning, factory representatives and of the property owner will also be involved in the hunt for bodies and assessment of damage and liability, he said.

Ly Kheng, deputy chief of Chak Angre Krom commune, said Sunday, “We are standing by to get information about [Grand­tex employees] who are missing from their family members…but I have not heard any reports.”

Commune Chief Chea Sokhaiy said the 1,060 Grandtex workers are being paid from the first of the month through the day of the fire. For now they have been given three weeks’ paid vacation at

45 percent of their wages while Grand­­tex searches for new site.

Sem Sotheary, 22, who es­caped the fire clutching her two sisters, said the break comes at a favorable time. “Most of the work­ers went to their homelands to help their families because it is the rainy season.”

She and her two sisters are spending the coming weeks sowing rice on their family’s plot in Kampot province.

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