Since January of this year, a total of 496 fires have occurred across the country, leaving at least 13 people dead and 43 others injured while damaging 610 houses and 80 merchant stalls at markets.

The report from the Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue of the National Police, seen by The Post on September 20, said that 40.75 per cent of the fires were caused by electrical malfunctions; 37.14 per cent by cooking stoves using firewood, charcoal or gas; and 22.11 per cent either by unspecified causes or remains under investigation.

Neth Vantha, director of the National Police’s fire department, told The Post on September 20 that Phnom Penh had the highest number of fires and the highest number of casualties followed by Kandal, Siem Reap and Battambang.

He said Kep could be regarded as a model province in fire prevention right now as no fire has been reported there so far this year.

Vantha said that the figures showed that people in Phnom Penh seemed to be more negligent while also conceding that population density and size were probably big factors as well as the preponderance of older buildings in deteriorating conditions.

He called on all residents, owners of business, factories and enterprise, handicrafts, restaurants and entertainment clubs to be more vigilant about fire prevention in all forms.

Replacing old electrical equipment such as electrical wiring and using safe cooking equipment would also contribute to fire prevention, he said.

“During Pchum Ben Festival the use of electricity increases and then fires increase. So, all people must always be vigilant. They must be sure that they turn appliances off or put them out after cooking. They must also be careful when using incense sticks and put them out before leaving their houses,” Vanthan said.

On September 19, Phnom Penh Municipal Police deputy chief Sum Sokhim told The Post that one person was killed and 24 others injured in fires across the capital since January of this year while over 100 houses in the capital were also destroyed in blazes over that period.

Sokhim visited with Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng at the headquarters of the Municipal Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue, where he handed out gifts to the 145 officers present.

Sokhim said that since January of this year there were 83 fires in Phnom Penh that required 998 fire trucks and 3,833 cubic metres of water to extinguish.

“One person died and 24 people were injured, while 113 homes and 80 buildings were destroyed, including six karaoke venues, one nightclub, one gas station and one car garage.

“Fourteen motorbikes and 27 cars were also destroyed, along with other pieces of equipment,” Sokhim said.

The fires were started by electrical faults in 56 of the incidents, one was due to a road traffic accident and 26 were chalked up to unspecified causes.

Sreng praised the fire and rescue police of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police for their excellent work on fighting fires in a timely manner.

“In the past, for the fire police, there were negative perceptions regarding the speed of their intervention, but now they really get a lot of praise from the people. In Phnom Penh these days our forces intervene quickly and put out fires in time,” he said.

According to a report by the Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue Department of the National Police, in the first eight months of 2022 there were 496 fires across the country that killed 13 people and injured 43 others, while also damaging 610 houses and 80 market merchant stalls.

Compared to the same period last year, the number of fires has decreased by 42 per cent, while the number of deaths has decreased by a factor of four.

However, the number of injured increased by seven and the number of damaged houses increased by 109.

Phnom Penh had the highest number of fires at 83, followed by Kandal at 39, Siem Reap at 32 and Battambang at 28.