Fire Devastates Garment Factory Community

A large fire ripped through Chak Angre Leu commune in Meanchey district Wednesday af­ter­noon, leaving hundreds homeless and the surrounding neighborhood in pandemonium.

Chaos reigned on National Road 2 below Monivong Bridge as six fire trucks attempted to weave through a stand-still traffic snarl of cars, motorbikes and residents car­rying their furniture and be­long­ings through the street.

“We need to get water to the fire, but the trucks can’t move be­cause of all the people,” said Chea Sim, a fireman directing traffic.

Fire trucks, unable to approach the alleys surrounding the wooden houses, fought the fire from

25 me­ters away, on the sidewalks of Route 2.

Commune police said the fire be­gan at 2:45 pm in the wooden house of Srun Soeun, 45, and spread to demolish 33 homes. Po­lice did not state the cause of the fire, but neighbors and officials cited the incense frequently used in the home as a possibility.

Residents said the fire quickly en­gulfed stilt houses and large homes despite their use of wa­ter buckets. At 3 pm, clouds of black smoke could be seen for ki­lo­m­eters.

Garment workers rushed from nearby factories to protect their homes. Many women still wore their green Tack Fat Garment Fac­tory vests hours later.

“My wife called me at 2:50 pm to help save our house,” said Koy Ko­koup, whose home was un­harmed but under a cloud of smoke. “We found this safe area our­selves,” he said, pointing to his wife next to a pile of be­longings on a sidewalk.

The setting was more subdued at Wat Chak Angre Leu, where monks’ residences were filled floor to ceiling with mattresses.

Crying women and children sat upon waist-level piles of packed suitcases, pillows, televisions, stereo equipment and bicycles, while men continued carrying their belongings through the streets. Some women appeared to be in shock.

The fire began to die down around 4 pm.



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