Alan and I were coming out of Lucky supermarket when we noticed big smoke behind the building. Kosal was picking us up so I went with him on his moto to see what was going on. We went behind lucky, turning right. Many people were also racing to see what was going on. We saw thick, black smoke rising. Kosal had to stop his moto as there was a jam. I hopped off and walked towards the fire.
I saw this - a fire truck was already there and people were helping to pull the hose to spray the fire, which was engulfing a typical Cambodian provision shop, made of wood, with a zinc roof.
You can see the fire truck in this picture.
The policemen were trying to get people to stand back, away from the fire.
I stood opposite, outside the Angkor Land Hotel. This guy was racing to connect a hose from the hotel to help put out the fire.
The fire trucks managed to hose down the flames in less than 15 minutes.
The house was completely destroyed by that time.
You can see the coconuts spilling all over the ground. The umbrella was also burnt. There was hardly anything left of the small provisions stall.
The fire truck was leaving and you can see the policeman on the right holding up the electrical wire with his baton. At first I was thinking he was trying to prevent the wire from catching fire.
Then I realised he was lifting the electrical wire to let the fire truck pass under. You can see more clearly in the photo below.
This lady was crying and hugging her son, so I assume it is her shop that burnt down. She had only grabbed her little blue metal cash box.
I felt so sad for the lady I wanted to cry. Must be terrible to lose everything in this way. But many Cambodian houses are similarly vulnerable to fires, because the walls are made of wooden planks and zinc sheets for the roof. Very few people have fire insurance so when you lose it all, there is nothing you can do. I've often thought about the houses we have rented in Cambodia. What happens if there is a fire? The landlord loses everything because the tenant cannot be expected to pay, and the landlord has no insurance.
The house Alan and I rented in Siem Reap is actually a death trap if there is a fire because there is only one door in and out of the house. Plus, all the windows have grilles (typical here in Cambodia because of security concerns).
Thank goodness the Bloom guesthouse is better designed, with a front and back door, another two more doors upstairs to the large balconies on the front and back. Best of all, there are no grilles on any of the windows - good for easy escape in case of a fire!
i miss your writing. :D
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