Two men were killed and another was injured in two separate blazes in the capital last night.
In the first case, an elderly man died when a cigarette sparked a blaze in his house at the former dumpsite in Meanchey district.
Neighbours and local authorities yesterday identified the victim as “grandpa Lo Ma” and said he died after being trapped in the burning house.
The fire started at about 10pm and was still smouldering yesterday afternoon in Stung Meanchey commune’s Damnak Thom Muoy village.
Meas Chanthorn, a neighbour, said the victim was in his 60s and died before he could be rescued from the burning house.
“He was living with his daughter and both of them are mentally challenged,” he said. “We rushed to the scene to try to rescue him and called the municipal fire police but he was already dead when police managed to get him out.”
Sun Thy, another neighbor who lives behind the victim’s house, said Mr Ma was mentally challenged and was living with his daughter after his wife died.
“Grandpa Lo Ma suffered a mental breakdown after his wife and son died and his daughter also has mental problems,” he said. “He was hired to guard the former dumpsite surroundings and was given a house and land.”
“He did not drink alcohol but smoked heavily and we believe that the fire was caused by a cigarette he threw in the house,” Mr Thy added.
Village chief Sar Sam yesterday said that it was hard to save the victim because the fire happened so fast.
“The fire started at around 10pm and Mr Ma was sleeping inside the house while his daughter, who is in her 30s, slept outside,” he said. “The blaze spread very quickly because he stored sponge that he collected from the garbage site.”
“We believe he threw a burning cigarette butt which fell on the pile of sponge, sparking the blaze,” Mr Sam added.
He also said that although the daughter was outside when the fire started, she did not alert neighbours because she was mentally challenged.
Mr Sam said neighbours only realised that there was a fire when the blaze was raging.
He added that three to four fire trucks from the municipal military police headquarters came to fight the fire and police officers covered themselves with blankets and ran in to bring out the victim.
“Police officers covered themselves with blankets and ran in to bring him out, but the man had already died,” he said. “The military police officer almost got hit by falling wreckage.”
In the other incident, a man died and another was injured when an apartment caught fire around midnight in Chamkar Mon district.
A district police officer, who only gave his name as Hong, said the man died in hospital and the injured man is in intensive care.
He added that the cause of the fire is still being investigated.