Two children were killed in an early morning blaze on Tuesday when petrol poured into a bottle from its 30l container spilt onto a burning candle in their home in O’Chum commune, O’Chum district, Ratanakkiri province.
District police chief Ngen Sam told The Post the children – a five-year-old girl and three-year-old boy – were asleep when their mother, 27, spilt the petrol, causing a fire that engulfed the house and destroyed the property.
“The mother was in deep shock when the house caught fire and rushed out crying for help, leaving the sleeping children behind.
“Before her neighbours and firefighters arrived, the children had already died in flames,” he said, adding the mother fainted after learning of their deaths.
O’Chum district public order and fire head Rong Saith said the fire spread fast because the house doubled as a gas and petrol shop.
“The fire was already in full force when we arrived. The blaze was too strong we could not enter to save the children. We could only prevent the fire from spreading to nearby houses,” he said.
Sarith said three fire engines were used to put out the flame. All belongings including two motorbikes were destroyed.
In March, the fire authorities urged the public to exercise caution and switch off the kitchen stove if it is unattended and turn off electronic equipment before leaving home as the dry season is very hot and ideal for fires to occur.
Phnom Penh had the highest number of fatalities in fires, followed by Pailin, Siem Reap, Prey Veng and Kampong Cham provinces.
The National Police’s Fire Prevention Department director Neth Vantha told The Post in March that 41 per cent of fires are caused by an electrical malfunction and 39 per cent by unattended candles. The cause of the remaining 20 per cent is unknown.