In the first six months of the year, the National Police recorded 738 fires across the country, an increase of more than 200 incidences over the previous year. Police officers are continuing to educate the public on fire prevention measures, said a recently released report by the National Police.

Despite the high number, deaths attributed to fires fell by over 75 per cent. 

This year’s fires were reported to have killed nine people, injured 25 and destroyed 450 homes and 502 shops and market stalls.

In the first six months of 2023, there were just 516 fires, but 41 people were reported dead. 

Investigators determined that 41.56 per cent of this year’s fires were sparked by electrical malfunctions and 39.33 per cent by accidents involving open flames. They were unable to guarantee the cause in 19.11 per cent of cases.

Phnom Penh reported the highest number of blazes, with 80 fires destroying 100 homes. Siem Reap experienced 39 fires while Banteay Meanchey saw 30, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

Neth Vantha, director of the National Police's Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue, issued a July 10 call for the owners of markets, factories, large establishments and tall buildings to step up their cooperation with authorities, in accordance with the Law on Fire Prevention and Firefighting.

The Law requires that owners cooperate with police officers and conduct joint drills to raise awareness of fire prevention and suppression measures among their staff.

“Cambodia is developing so the number of high-rise buildings being constructed is also rising. If the owners do not pay attention to recommended fire prevention measures, it may be difficult for our officers to intervene in the event of an emergency,” said Vantha.

He issued his warning as the fire department conducted firefighting, rescue and evacuation exercises at Aeon Mall 1.

The drills aimed to ensure staff at the mall understood preventative measures, as well as how to provide first aid, in the event of a fire taking place.

He noted that firefighting exercises with Aeon have been held for the previous nine years, with all branches of the mall company providing excellent cooperation with the fire department.

“This is an example that the owners of similar, large locations should follow,” he said.

In order to ensure the public understands the potential dangers of fires and how to prevent them – as well as first aid – the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Office of Fire Prevention and Extinguishing and Rescue is disseminating information about fire prevention and rescue work to people in their homes.

These lessons include how to use and control fire extinguishers, as well as safe ways to evacuate. 

They also provide a guide to the safe use of electrical or gas systems that could cause a fire. They advised people to turn off electrical switches and close gas connections before leaving their homes, and reminded them of the importance of extinguishing all unattended naked flames, including candles and incense.