Blaze at Battambang's historic market destroys 33 stalls
Thirty-three market stalls valued at $560,000 were completely destroyed in a fire which broke out in Thom Market, Battambang city at 6pm on Sunday, according to a police statement.
Kim Bunthoeun, the chief of the provincial fire police bureau, said yesterday: “the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction which started at stall number 54 and part of the market’s west building caught fire.”
However, he also said that no one was injured or died because of the fire.
Bunthoeun said seven fire trucks used 29 tanks of water to put out the fire. Three of these trucks were provided by the provincial police headquarters and the other four by the Thmar Koul, Banan, Ek Phnom, and Sangke district police headquarters.
Before the oubreak of the fire, the provincial capital had reportedly experienced heavy rain.
Bunthoeun said that cracks had appeared in market building’s structure in the areas where the blaze had taken place, but that no parts had collapsed.
Provincial governor Nguon Ratanak said yesterday that the damaged areas were being cleaned up.
He added, “the commission conductied a meeting this morning, but I have not yet received a report.”
“There will be no repairs in the market areas that have not been damaged,” according to Ratanak.
Ratanak declined further comment, referring questions to the deputy provincial governor Soeum Bunrith who could not be reached yesterday.
However, according to a statement from the Battambang provincial administration Bunrith in a meeting yesterday had urged the city administration, market commission, as well as all other relevant officials and authorities to speed up the cleaning of the market so that the vendor’s businesses could get back to normal as quickly as possible.
The fire started when the market, otherwise known as the Nut Market, began to close for the day. Vendors were then seen grabbing their belongings from the stalls, whilst black smoke billowed from the market’s roof.
Most vendors reportedly had already gone home when the fire broke out. and there were only some vendors selling fish and other goods outside of the market.
Battambang city governor Pheng Sithi was alerted to the outbreak of the fire and was asked to help tackle the blaze as there had been an electrical malfunction in one of the market stalls.
According to a Battambang provincial administration’s statement, the Thom Market commission has been in control of the market, which comprises more than 800 stalls since 1993. It was built in 1936 during the French colonial era and is located in the centre of Battambang city with its front facing the Sangke River.
Ry Sochan / Khmer Times