It took only a quarter of an hour for a fire near the tourist-heavy Russian Market to consume 13 homes on Saturday afternoon before the first of more than a dozen trucks arrived to fight the blaze.
Authorities are still investigating what caused the blaze in Chamkarmon district’s Tuol Tompoung II commune, in which two people were injured and a property owner’s hair was singed off as he tried to save his possessions, but suspect wood used in building the homes helped the fire spread.
Three people were arrested and charged with property theft after they allegedly tried to make off with personal items homeowners had managed to move out of the fire’s way and into the safety of the street.
Neth Vantha, director of the Phnom Penh office responsible for fighting fires, said a total of 18 trucks had battled the blaze, in Street 432, with many returning to the station to refill their tanks with water.
“We took more than an hour to extinguish it completely at 2:20pm,” he said.
Vantha said there had been nine reported fires this year —more than in January, 2012 — resulting in two deaths and three injuries.
Police commissioner Choun Sovann said flammable items in the homes, such as a stock of rubber goods, had fed the fire.
He was not sure of the cause or the scope of damage, but said police were investigating.
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