Station Owner to Face Charges over $1M PP Fire

Police reported yesterday that over a million dollars in damage resulted from the fire that spread from a Sokimex tanker-truck that ignited Tuesday in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district.

Nuth Samoeurn, the 49-year-old owner of the Veal Vong commune gas station where the fire began, was placed in the custody of Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday pending chargers. Police said that Ms Samoeurn urged the driver of the tanker to drive away when sparks began flying from the truck’s running motor as it refueled her station’s diesel tanks.

The truck had gone about 50 meters when the diesel leaking from two of its tanks exploded, lighting six houses on fire.

“I am working with police, but I have been too busy with a meeting issue charges,” municipal court deputy prosecutor Heang Sopheak said yesterday, adding that he planned to charge Ms Samoeurn today.

According to Ev Chhun Pheng, chief of the district police’s penal bureau, 19 people filed complaints in the wake of the fire. Mr Pheng said that police who investigated the scene reported that $1,076,500 worth of damage was done.

“The station owner was sent to the court in keeping with legal procedure,” said Mr Pheng.

According to police reports, Ms Samoeurn, whose Sokimex station was being remodeled, had moved her business temporarily across the street. Sokimex chairman Sok Kong, who claimed in the wake of the accident that he would compensate those whose property was damaged, said yesterday that he wasn’t willing to commit to paying the total reported by the police and would seek a compromise with the affected.

“We have not seen the police report yet,” said Mr Kong. “We will consider it and evaluate how to reach a reasonable compromise with the victims.”

Along with the six homes, four cars, five motorcycles and at least two furniture shops were destroyed in Tuesday’s fire. Chea Then, the 57-year-old owner of one of the furniture shops and one of the houses that burned, said on Wednesday he had filed a complaint for $220,000.

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