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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Contractors deny blaze blame

Contractors deny blaze blame

A senior executive of construction company LBL denied the firm

was to blame for the blaze which burnt down the Bassac Theater.

Seven LBL

workers were using a blow torch on the roof of the theater on the morning it

burnt down last month, said administrative director Thierry Loustau


he believed it was impossible for them to have caused the fire, even though it

apparently started in the roof area.

He also revealed that the blaze

occurred on virtually the last day the company was working on the theater, under

a contract from the French Embassy to repair leaks in the roof.


told the Post at the company's headquarters in Monivong Boulevard: "The fire

started after 11 am and the workers weren't even on the roof at the time, they

were on the ground taking a break, eating lunch or drinking coffee.


stayed to help fight the fire, if they had been responsible for anything they

would have run away."

He explained that a low intensity torch was used to

join strips of rubberized roofing material together by melting the


But he added that the bitumen-based Soprasun strip was virtually

fire proof.

Loustau also said he had a dated photograph taken on the

roof on the morning of the blaze which showed the work completed, with no holes

for burning materials to fall through to spark the fire.

He said: "I've

gone through in my mind how this could have happened again and again but I just

don't know.

"It is terrible because the theater represents something

really important."

The seven Vietnamese and two French LBL executives

were taken to a police station for questioning. The French were released on the

day of the fire and the Vietnamese two days afterwards, Loustau said.


added that the workers had remained in the country and are still working for the


Loustau said he had not yet been informed by the police of the

results of their investigation. The company was uninsured due to the difficulty

of arranging policies in the Cambodia.

Loustau said he went to the

theater soon after the fire started and added: "It was terrible. I saw the fire

and never thought it could burn the whole building down."

He said that

LBL had tried to arrange insurance before starting work on the theater but it

had been impossible to obtain a policy.



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