The livelihoods of more than 50 fishing families went up in flames on Saturday night as a fire ripped through their Sihanoukville floating village, seriously injuring a baby girl and six other people.
The blaze gutted 46 homes and other fishing equipment and infrastructure and has left the Tomnob Rolok community homeless, forced to set up camp in makeshift tents on a parcel of land flanking the former floating village.
Commune chief Chhith Sophath said the inferno burned out of control for about two hours, with seven people – including an 11-month-old baby girl – rushed to a private hospital in Sihanoukville’s commune 3 after suffering serious burns and lacerations.
He said the conflagration was caused by the explosion of a kitchen gas can in the house of a 48-year-old widow as she cooked soup for her children at about 11.30pm.
“Forty-six wooden houses with metal roofs were burned to the ground . . . we are calling for funds and donations from charities and the provincial government to help us; we are now homeless” he said.
Chin Bunchea, the provincial fire-fighting chief, said 13 trucks ferried water to the blaze, which was extinguished at about 1.30am. Ironically, he said, a deluge of monsoon rain began once the fire had been smothered.
He said that in the past two months there have been three fires, and this latest blaze was the worst.
In July, 139 families were left homeless when a massive fire consumed 57 homes and 24 market stalls in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sangke commune.
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