Seventeen people were killed and 59 others injured in fires nationwide in 2022, according to the annual report of the National Police’s Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue on the year’s incidence of fires in the Kingdom.
The report shows that this year, there were 618 outbreaks of fires in 24 provinces and the capital, which damaged 697 houses and 109 market stalls.
Compared to the year previous, there were 52 fewer fires in 2022, but the number of houses damaged by fires only decreased by 10, while the number of burned market stalls went up by two to 111.
There were also 24 more injuries from fires in 2022 than in 2021. Thus, it could be surmised preliminarily that although fewer fires took place this past year, at least some of the fires that did occur were of a more serious nature than what was experienced on average in 2021.
“Phnom Penh has the highest number of fires with 119 outbreaks, six dead and 22 injured. Kep province is our model province, as it is the only one where no fires have occurred at all in the last two years,” the report said.
Investigators examining the locations where fires have started determined that 41.55 per cent were caused by electrical faults or bad wiring; 38.24 per cent were due to negligence in using wood-burning stoves fuelled by firewood, charcoal and gas, both during and after cooking.
More than 20 per cent of the year’s fires are suspected to be related to incidents of domestic violence or other which are still under investigation by specialized police of the capital and provincial office of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue.
Neth Vantha, Director of the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue, told The Post that in order to reduce the risk of fire in each locality in the capital-provincial areas across the country, it was necessary for the people and local authorities to work together to maintain good order, by well arranging public electric wire along the road and over people’s houses.
He added that the roads must be widened to facilitate the fire trucks’ traffic, especially creating technical training courses to local communities to help intervene in case of fire occurs at their location.
“Fires are a type of disaster that can be prevented if we focus on checking electrical wiring, tools and appliances on a regular basis,” he said.
He said that in this autumn, the weather was cold and windy, which could easily cause fires if some kind of stove fire or a heating pad or other items were used, so people need to extinguish the flames after using it.
Regarding a recent suspected domestic violence-related arson, authorities reported that at 2:00 am on December 20, there was a fight involving physical assault by a man against his wife after he came home drunk. The man then set his own home on fire with his wife still inside of it. Neighbours and police officers arrived on the scene not long after and intervened that night.
The incident took place in Sre Ampoum commune’s Puradeth village of Mondulkiri province’s Pech Chreada district.
Sre Ampoum commune deputy police chief Tou Meng told The Post that Mom Leakena, 35, was at home when her husband Chen Thla – in an intoxicated state – set fire to the home and property and fled the area.
“Fortunately, the wife took her children out of the house and called the neighbours and the police to put out the fire in time without suffering any serious damage,” he said.