A late-night fire tore through the largely symbolic Royal Residence in Siem Reap town on March 12, though no injuries were reported in the incident.
Siem Reap provincial police chief Teng Channath said firefighters completely extinguished the blaze – which broke out at around 10:30pm – just after midnight. The residence is located in Svay Dangkum commune, across from the popular Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm Shrine.
Channath said specialists had not yet determined the exact cause of the conflagration. “At this time, police officers are continuing to investigate this case.”
However, on the morning of March 13, the Ministry of the Royal Palace issued a statement suggesting that the blaze was begun by faulty electrical wiring.
Provincial governor Tea Seiha said he was saddened by the incident. “We regret the terrible fire which consumed a building at the Royal Residence, one of the most sacred sites in the province.”
Prince Sisowath Thomico, an adviser to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, said the Royal Residence was a historical site as it was where he began the independence movement.
“I regret this unfortunate incident. This small residence is where the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk began his campaign to demand independence from the French in 1952,” he added.
Provincial authorities have not yet confirmed the extent of the damage caused by the fire.
“At this time, I cannot comment on the extent of the damage. A joint commission, including senior officials from the royal palace ministry, is making an inspection and assessment. When it has issued its conclusions, the police will issue an updated statement,” said Channath.