Kampot provincial authorities are assessing damages and ascertaining the cause of Wednesday’s fire which nearly consumed Trapaing Pov Samaki market in Teuk Chhou district’s Prek Tnort commune.
Provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith told The Post on Thursday that preliminary figures show that of the market’s 187 stalls, 147 were destroyed.
Firefighters in five fire engines responded using 35 water tank trunks during the operation, he said, adding that the flames did not spread to nearby houses.
Two of the five fire engines were brought in from neighbouring Prey Nop district in Preah Sihanouk province, he said.
“The fire at the market was sparked by a short circuit. We are further investigating but are yet unaware of the full extent of the damage. The provincial governor ordered specialised officials to gather statistics and find out how they can be of assistance [to the victims],” said Chanmathurith.
Prek Tnort commune police chief Phy Dok said the vendors do not stay in the market at night and had returned to their homes, leaving only security guards patrolling the locked compound.
He noted that a fuse box at the market had recently been repaired.
“A few days ago [Monday], there seemed to be an electrical malfunction and the lights kept flickering. It damaged one of the vendor’s refrigerators. We were able to take care of it, but two days later, this incident occurred,” said Dok.
On Thursday, the market’s owner Sorn Ravuth, also known as Try, expressed his devastation over the collective losses.
“[The fuse box] was already repaired, and I do not know why [the fire] started at night. Our vendors always turn off the lights at night. Maybe some of them forgot to turn off their lights that day,” said Ravuth.
Duong Sopheak, the owner of a phone shop near the market, said she had seen flames coming out of a stall in the middle of the market, but could not identify what stall number it was.
Shortly after, she said, Prek Tnort commune police forces asked district and provincial forces for help as ambulances in Teuk Chhou district were limited.
“The market was made out of wood and was zinc-roofed. The fire spread very quickly, the water tank trucks even came late because it is far and we cannot blame the firefighters.”
The fire broke out at around 7pm on Wednesday and was extinguished at around 3am on Thursday.