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200 Families Homeless After Phnom Penh Fire

More than 200 families lost their homes to a fire Monday night in Phnom Penh, with many forced to stay on the grounds of a pagoda nearby.

The fire began at 6:30 pm Monday evening and was extinguished by 10 pm, Phnom Penh officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but residents say it started in one house where a grandson had been fighting with his grandmother, knocking over a kerosene lantern.

No one was killed in the blaze, which brought in 26 fire trucks and destroyed 158 houses and eight units of monk housing from Wat Neak Kavorn, in Tuol Kork district.

Some of the homeless from 217 families were staying under trees and amid the stupas of Wat Neak Kavorn, calling for emergency food, shelter and medical care.

“I lost everything. It caused about more than $300 [in damge], including my house and my assets in the house,” Phat Yeour, 35, as he carried a woven mat through the pagoda. “I need the Cambodian government to help me get my life back.”

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chutema said the muncipalitiy had not yet decided how to compensate the victims but had already provided some emergency provisions.