Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong on Monday visited the site of a fire that broke out in Meanchey district over the weekend to hand out gifts to 119 villagers who lost their homes.
A large fire sparked by roof repair work destroyed 35 homes in Stung Meanchey commune on Sunday, causing over $150,000 in damages.
“We are very sad to hear about this,” said Mr. Socheatvong. “We have some gifts for you.”
Mr. Socheatevong handed out $55, a 30 kg sack of rice, and fish sauce to each of the 65 families affected by the fire. He told villagers the gifts had been funded by the Cambodian Red Cross, which is headed by Bun Rany, the wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Meanchey district governor Pich Keomony said at least 60 families were left homeless after the fire and that total damages amounted to $155,300.
“Authorities are very sad and sharing the sorrow for the victims,” Mr. Keomony said.
The municipal fire department said on Sunday that the fire was sparked by a man who was making repairs to his roof.
Villagers on Monday named Rin Sothy, a local homeowner, as the culprit and said he had fled in the wake of the fire.
So Samnang, whose house once stood next to Mr. Sothy’s, said she warned the repairmen on his roof to be careful because flaming debris was landing on her window.
“I told the owner about the fire, but he did not take care,” said Ms. Samnang, adding that Mr. Sothy and his family left home in the wake of the blaze. Ms. Samnang has filed a complaint against him with commune police.
Ouk Phors, another villager, said she saw the fire start on Mr. Sothy’s roof as he was repairing it.
“We really need the compensation from the roof-repairing house, which caused the fire, but now they escaped,” Ms. Phors said.
Stung Meanchey commune police chief Mao Saroeun said his officers are still interviewing villagers and have not yet tracked down Mr. Sothy or verified if he is responsible for the blaze.
“Police are investigating his name and location,” Mr. Saroeun said.