The fire that gutted the bus terminal of transport firm Virak Buntham, claiming one life and destroying 23 vehicles in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar commune and district on July 30, caused $1.5 million in damages, the National Police report revealed on August 1.
The fire is believed to have been started by an electrical fault.
The report said the victim was a former staff member from Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district, who came to visit former colleagues.
The fire did not spread to neighbouring houses but 35 fire engines and 91 water trucks were deployed to extinguish the blaze, which lasted for two hours from 3:30pm to 5:30pm.
Virak Buntham director-general Suo Vireak told The Post on August 1 that before the incident, the victim and four friends gathered for a meal in one of the buses. As it was hot inside, they connected a fan to an external electricity supply. After eating, the three departed and left the victim alone.
“So, we can say that he may have fallen asleep or been drunk and slept in the bus. The electric wire could have short-circuited and the mattress in the bus caught fire,” he said.
He added that at first people did not notice the fire as it was in the centre of the parked buses, until it spread out of control.
Despite the damages, he said it has not affected the business as the company was not operating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We parked the buses and removed the batteries, so there was no electrical current. Our first thought was that the batteries could not have caused the fire, and the fire department came to the same conclusion. The accident is regretful,” he said.
Vireak said the company had donated one million riel ($250) to the victim’s family for funeral.