A senior Phnom Penh Municipal Fire Department official on Sunday blamed human error for the blaze that occurred the day earlier at a gas shop in Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke II commune.
Prom Yorn, the municipal fire department director, said a group of welders who were hired to weld storage shelves for Seng Hout gas shop – named after its owner – was responsible for the incident.
The contracted welders, Yorn said, “accidentally” dropped the iron materials of the shelving units onto a pile of gas cans, resulting in an explosion and a fire that quickly devoured the warehouse where all the cans were stored.
The fire also spread to adjacent buildings, including a kitchen supply storeroom, two rental rooms and a four-story twin villa.
“All the structures belonged to Seng Hout himself, who is a police officer at the Ministry of Interior,” Yorn told The Post on Sunday, estimating the total damage caused by the fire had exceeded $1 million.
He further said that Hout had not sought compensation to cover the damage from the group of “careless” welders.
Yorn said firefighters from multiple divisions used 50 cubic metres of water to put out the fire in an operation that lasted about three hours.
He continued that nobody was killed during the incident, but two firefighters – Saek Thoeun, 55, and Lai Eing, 23 – sustained mild injuries.
Director of the Interior Ministry’s fire department Neth Vantha said so far this year – up to Sunday – there had been 399 fire-related accidents across Cambodia, killing 17 people and injuring 47 others.
“Phnom Penh had the most number of fire-related accidents recorded, followed by Siem Reap province. Meanwhile, Stung Treng province had the highest number of people killed by fire-related accidents,” he told The Post on Sunday.
Over the same period, forty per cent of fire-related incidents in Cambodia were caused by electrical faults, while “negligence” accounted for 39 per cent.
Another 20 per cent were caused by “undetermined” reasons – pending investigation, Vantha said, citing a report based on a nationwide study of the matter.
He said the Interior Ministry’s Fire Department will arrange a national workshop on “Strengthening Actions to Prevent Fire in Target Areas” in the fourth week of this month.
This workshop, Vantha said, will see the participation of key figures from several ministries and institutions, as well as representatives from private enterprises of the petroleum energy, hospitality and manufacturing sectors.