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City officials brace for fire threats posed by Lunar New Year

Written By vibykhmer on Friday, January 23, 2009 | 1:17 AM

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Friday, 23 January 2009

A damaged fleet of firetrucks could hinder efforts to contain unexpected fires caused by burning incense left unattended.
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Photo by: Sovann Philong
Chinese New Year candles on sale in Phnom Penh last week.

THE Phnom Penh Municipality has appealed to city residents to be vigilant and prevent fires caused by burning incense during the Lunar New Year, which begins Monday, as they prepare to deal with the threat posed by the holiday with a damaged fleet of firetrucks.

Of 15 firetrucks operated by city officials, five are "old and broken", said Neth Vantha, office manager of the Municipal Police Fire Brigade.

"We are preparing our forces in accordance with the suggestion from the National Police chief to be ready to fight unexpected fires during the Lunar New Year," he said, adding that the night before the New Year begins [Sunday], was actually the time officials were most concerned about.

He said 88 officers will be deployed over the holiday period.

Concern among residents
Meas Malis, 29, who lives in Tuol Kork district, said she was not planning a big celebration because she is not of Chinese descent. But she said
she would be mindful of fire threats in light of the fact that she might not have much assistance should she need to put one out.

"I do not even have a fire extinguisher," she said. "We are careful, but if our neighbours are not careful, we will be worried about fires. Fires can jump to many houses" she said.

Neth Vantha said there were 44 fires in Phnom Penh during the first 10 months of 2008. The cause of the fires - which damaged 483 houses, two guesthouses and a factory, among other buildings - is known in only 22 cases.

He could not provide data on the number of fires that occurred during Lunar New Year last year

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