Two people were killed and eight injured in fires over the full 15 days of the Pchum Ben festival, with the 30 blazes recorded this year, up on last year’s 12, the National Police’s Fire Department said on Saturday.
Nobody died as a result of fires during last year’s Pchum Ben, Fire Department director Neth Vantha told The Post on Monday.
A Fire Department report said blazes destroyed two market stalls, one level of a rice factory and 31 homes, while another was damaged.
Fifteen fires were caused by faulty electrics, three by gas explosions and two by children. Four blazes were started deliberately by homeowners, the report stated.
Others were caused by candles and incense sticks, ignited petrol and blocked flues, while one started after a crash involving a car and a motorbike.
The cause of two fires was unknown.
“The 30 fires this year represents an increase of 12 compared to the same period last year. Seven fires were reported during the three days of the Pchum Ben holiday, an increase of four on last year,” the report stated.
Vantha said carelessness was a major contributor to fires in the Kingdom “The number of fires increases one year to the next. Fires generally result from people’s thoughtlessness. The implementation of preventive measures is also still ineffective, with most of the 30 fires that occurred over Pchum Ben resulting from faulty electrics,” Vantha said.
San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, agreed that Cambodians generally seemed to pay little attention to fire prevention, with the number of blazes increasing during the main national holidays.
“As they live in a country where earthquakes are unlikely, Cambodian people seem to be careless when it comes to implementing preventive measures regarding fires. They often do not check their house is safe before leaving, which results in a lot cases where fire breaks out due to unattended candles and incense sticks,” Chey told The Post.
He said that authorities’ ability to tackle fires was also limited by a lack of human resources and fire engines.
A television and social media campaign should be launched to educate people on basic fire prevention, Chey added.
Over the 10 months from November last year to September this year, 13 people were killed in 596 fires nationwide, with 104 injured, while 571 houses and 318 market stalls were completely destroyed, the Fire Department report stated.