Phsar Kandal 1 Fire Leaves Many Homeless

Blistered wedding photos lay ruin­ed in the damp ash at Phsar Kan­dal 1 commune early Sunday morn­ing—the scene of a Friday fire that lashed through 30 homes and displaced more than 55 families.

Neighborhood pathways were heap­ed with soot, broken glass, scorch­ed clothing and tangled wire. The air was sour.

The fire that swept through the homes on Street 15 and Street 144 in Daun Penh district began around 10:30 am and was extinguished about four hours later by municipal firefighters. No one was killed or seriously injured.

Commune Chief Kong Rith said the cause of the fire was unclear and that he didn’t know whether any of the affected residents would be able to seek compensation.

Kong Rith said he would appeal to the Cambodian Red Cross to help those who had lost their homes and possessions.

On Sunday, the neighborhood was noisy with power tools and ham­mers as the homeless began re­pairs.

Outside what was left of his first-story home, Moeung Meng, 46, said he was able to save his television set and gas stove, but had lost everything else, including his sew­ing machine—a tool needed for his job mending and selling used clothing.

Moeung Meng, who has sent his wife and two children to live with relatives, said he plans to stay in their damaged home while he does re­pairs—despite the conditions.

“I will ask permission from the au­thorities to stay here for now, be­cause I don’t have the money to go to another place. It looks to me like it is okay to stay inside,” Moeung Meng said.

“I don’t know where to get money to fix my house,” he said, estimating that the fire had destroyed his family’s entire savings, about $7,000.

Further down the lane, Seng So­kun surveyed her ruined ground floor home through a broken window, holding back tears. The ceiling was destroyed, exposing charred rafters. Pools of water collected around piles of debris.

“Nobody was home [when the fire started], so we couldn’t save anything,” she said, her voice cracking and tears rolling down her face.

She estimated the fire had caused more than $10,000 in damage to her home. “I don’t have any plans yet,” she added.

Authorities denied allegations by some commune residents that the firefighters who fought the blaze on Friday had demanded money be­fore they would turn their hoses to­wards the flames.

“They don’t dare demand mon­ey,” said Sok Vannara, first dep­u­ty di­rector of the municipal fire department. “They could be jailed for that.”




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