Chemical blaze forces residents to evacuate in capital

2020-10-27 10:45:03

A chemical blaze that forced residents from their homes in Kraing Thnong commune, Phnom Penh on Sunday was finally extinguished on Monday evening, allowing them to return.

 The fire, which started in a chlorine warehouse in Vimean Trong village, emitted plumes of chemical smoke, polluting the air and making it difficult for nearby residents to breath.

Sen Sok district governor Mov Manit told Khmer Times yesterday that the fire did not spread beyond the warehouse, but as a precaution authorities closed off the road and informed citizens to keep their distance.

Interior Ministry fire department director Major General Neth Vantha told Khmer Times yesterday that the fire was caused by a chemical reaction.

“Nobody was injured and the fire was completely extinguished on Monday. However, it took until today [yesterday] for the smoke to fully clear,” he said.

“The warehouse owner has a licence to import 100 tonnes of chlorine, but the warehouse only contained around 10 tonnes. Most of the chlorine was burned and the warehouse sustained considerable damage to the structure and roof,” he said.

Twenty-one fire trucks from the municipal fire police department used some 172 cubic litres of water to extinguish the blaze. Six fire trucks from the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation and one fire truck from the Cambodian Beer company also helped put out the fire, using 24 cubic litres and six cubic litres respectively.

The warehouse is owned by 40-year-old Eam Sopheaktra, who said he had rented it out to a woman who used it to store the chemicals.

“She told me recently that she would move out soon. Then I heard the warehouse was on fire,” he said.

The Interior Ministry Fire Police Department identified the warehouse tenant as Chhun Nareth, 32.

According to a National Police report, there were nearly 500 fires across the country during the first half of 2020, marking a continuing rise in blazes across the Kingdom.

The primary causes of the fires were electrical malfunction, accounting for 41 percent of the cases, and neglected incense sticks and candles which resulted in 39 percent of the total.

Blazes this year have taken the lives of 11 people, injured 28 and damaged some 739 properties.

According to the Fire Department, there were 429 fire-related incidents in the Kingdom during the first six months of last year, equivalent to an increase of 78 cases from the same period in 2018. Last year’s cases resulted in 10 deaths and 46 injuries, damaging 418 properties. |Via: Khmer Times