Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rise in number of blazes in ’15

Rise in number of blazes in ’15

People use extinguishers to put out fires yesterday on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich during National Fire Prevention and Extinguishing Day.
People use extinguishers to put out fires yesterday on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich during National Fire Prevention and Extinguishing Day. Heng Chivoan

Rise in number of blazes in ’15

The number of fires in Cambodia increased by 14.7 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year, killing 35 people and consuming almost 600 homes.

Electrical malfunctions were the leading cause of fires, accounting for 47 per cent of all fire incidents, with carelessness the second-leading cause, accounting for about 28 per cent, according to General Sous Angkea, deputy National Police chief.

The number of fire incidents in the country went up to 590 in 2015, from 514 in 2014. The blazes resulted in 35 deaths and 28 injuries, and the destruction of 595 houses, 421 market stalls, two warehouses, two garages, a nightclub, 18 cars and 10 tractors, Angkea said.

“The fire incidents increased remarkably,” he added. “That’s 76 cases up.”

The Ministry of Interior yesterday celebrated the first “National Fire Prevention and Extinguishing Day” on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich, where officers demonstrated preventive methods in an effort to spread awareness.

The estimated cost of fire damages and losses for the 2015 fires wasn’t available because victims sometimes decline to specify their losses, said Neth Vantha, director of the Interior Ministry’s Fire Department.

Paul Hurford, managing director at safety consultancy and equipment provider AziSafe, said the electrical malfunction cause given for nearly half of all fires in 2015 was vague and probably inaccurate, considering that fire servicemen lack the necessary skills, equipment and resources to investigate fires.

Regardless, he said, the fire-fighters are trying to do their jobs with what they have.

“There’s certainly more that they could do, but they are improving,” Hurford added.

Pa Socheatvong, Phnom Penh municipal governor, acknowledged yesterday that a lack of technical and specialised skills can sometimes make putting fires out in the capital “very complicated”.

He also cited the challenge of fire engines sometimes facing traffic congestion because some people don’t give them priority on the roads. What’s more, he said, some people don’t have fire extinguishers at home and are uneducated about preventive measures.

For his part, Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday urged authorities to educate the public on fire prevention, which Hurford said was “probably the biggest thing” for curbing fire risk.

According to deputy national police chief Angkea, there are 210 fire engines in service, including 128 from the national police, 25 from other state institutions and 57 from the private sector.

“The government plans to add 200 fire engines in the upcoming years, which are very effective in saving people, and public and private institutions, from fire danger,” he said.

Additionally, 596 fire fighters have been trained so far, he added.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro