The offices of the Stung Treng provincial police and department of rural development were destroyed Saturday in a five-hour electrical blaze that killed one man and detonated a munitions cache, police said.
Kem Bunna, 32, who had been under questioning after a traffic accident, became lost in the smoke and was unable to escape when the fire broke out shortly before noon in Stung Treng City, according to deputy provincial police chief Diep Chanthy.
“The fire started burning the police office first and then burned the building of the rural development department and destroyed everything,” said Mr Chanthy. “No one removed anything from the building, and nobody got close to the fire because it burned the warehouse, which exploded.
“Police and the victim tried to save their lives separately. They did not help each other,” he said. Mr Chanthy confirmed that a cache of weapons at the Untac-era police station had detonated during the fire but declined to provide details.
“All the weapons are a police secret. I could not discuss them,” he said.
An official at the Interior Ministry said on condition of anonymity yesterday that the Stung Treng police routinely collected old war remnants such as B40 rockets and guns discovered at construction sites and stored them while waiting for the Cambodian Mine Action Center to dispose of them.
Hou Sam Ol, a monitor for the human rights organization Adhoc, said yesterday that Kem Bunna had been carrying three passengers from the Lao border to Phnom Penh when his car slid off of National Road 7 and rolled over. The three passengers, including two foreign tourists and their guide, were injured.
“Provincial traffic police had stopped the victim and brought him to the police station to ask questions from Friday until Saturday,” Mr Sam Ol said.
“The victim tried to run out and died in the fire because there was too much smoke and he couldn’t see the way. No one could help him, and his body burned,” he said. “Villagers that lived close to the station were afraid the fire would burn their houses and were scared by the explosion.”