Ten homes housing 16 families in the capital’s Meanchey district were destroyed early Monday by fire, which police said was caused by an electrical malfunction. The homeowners, however, believe the blaze was caused by arson.
Kong Thou, deputy chief of the Municipal Fire Office, said he led a group of officers to put out the fire in Chak Angre Krom commune that began at about 1am.
He said police had determined the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction from a home in the middle of the row of houses. There were no fatalities.
Thou said 22 fire trucks were sent to the scene. Firefighters used 19 tanks of water and had the fire under control in about 90 minutes, he said.
“By the time the residents called us, the fire was already out of control. We showed up and immediately began to put out the fire. But the homes were made of wood, so it spread very quickly,” Thou said.
Oun Mal, from a family affected by the fire, said he did not believe an electrical malfunction caused it. He said he and the other victims suspect that someone poured petrol to set the house ablaze, but they are unsure who might have done it.
“I’m also an electrician and I do not believe the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction. When I woke up, the fire was out of control already. If it was caused by an electrical malfunction, we could have put it out ourselves,” he said.
Another resident, Sok Na, 50, also questioned the official findings. “I do not believe it. I asked the police to reinvestigate the fire, look for the person who caused it and bring him to justice,” he said.
This is the second fire in Meanchey in just over a week. On June 24, a fire in the district’s Boung Tompun commune razed 20 homes.