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Fingers pointed in fire's aftermath

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Residents clean up following a blaze in Russei Keo district on Tuesday.

Initial investigations have revealed that a fire that destroyed more than 60 homes in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district on Tuesday was caused by an electrical malfunction, officials said yesterday, though some local residents are claiming the blaze was started deliberately.

Russei Keo district police chief Som Buny said that the fire began at a café at 1:25pm, before a strong wind blew the flames into nearby homes.

“We can conclude that an electrical malfunction triggered the fire, but we are continuing our investigations,” he said.

The blaze destroyed 69 homes in Chraing Chamreh II commune’s Kor village, but caused no deaths or injuries.

Rumours are circulating among some villagers who witnessed the fire that it was started deliberately by a Vietnamese man known only as ‘Nang’, who rents a house behind the café where police believe the fire started.

Som Buny said that he intended to question Nang about the fire.

“I got information from many people who live near the home where the fire started,” Som Buny said. “The people said they suspect Mr Nang burned the home”.

San Sophat, a traffic police officer who lost his home and many of his personal effects in the fire, said the owner of the building where the blaze origniated should be held accountable by the government.

“I ask the authorities to make the home owner responsible for some of my burnt property,” San Sophat said.

District governor Klaing Huot said officials were pressing on with investigations, while providing food, equipment and medicines to the victims.

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