The ammunition warehouse of a military unit based in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district was destroyed on Saturday, along with all of its contents, when a fire ripped through the building, setting off a series of explosions, the division’s commander said yesterday.
Theung Thea, chief of Division 415, said the total damage to the wooden, zinc-roofed structure had not been tallied.
However, National Police reported on their website that the building had contained at least 13 guns of various makes and models – including AK rifles, a 12.7 millimetre heavy machine gun and an M20 anti-tank weapon that fires explosive shells – and nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition.
Thea said the cause of the fire was still unknown but noted that those responsible for looking after the building were being questioned.
He speculated, however, that the blaze could have been caused by the petrol and diesel sometimes used to clean the weapons.
“At 12:47pm, some of them went elsewhere. Some went to bring water down the hill over a kilometre from the base. Some went to have lunch.
Only one solider named Som Chay was still there,” he said, adding that a total of five soldiers were sent for questioning.
Despite the explosions set off by the fire, Thea said that a panic among locals was avoided as the conflagration was downwind, which prevented the sound from carrying.