Two people have died and three were injured after Sihanoukville’s Julie & Anna Entertainment Club caught fire on Monday night in Sihanoukville’s Bei commune.
Deputy provincial police chief Din Lykrou said the fire started about 8 p.m. as two fire trucks and about 100 officers rushed to put it out.
“As soon as the fire started, we arrived immediately,” Lykrou said. However, those trapped in the fire ran toward the back of the building, he said.
“They ran to the back and we didn’t know the layout inside, so it was very difficult to help them, and it was 15 minutes. We didn’t know how they were.”
According to a preliminary report, people were welding metal to install a curtain, causing a fire to ignite on foam on the wall, Lykrou said. Staff fought to put it out with an extinguisher, he said.
Authorities were still questioning those in the building, and it was not yet known whether there were safety violations, he said.
“We are in the process of forensic analysis, so we don’t know clearly. But they had an extinguisher.”
The club had not yet begun operations, Lykrou added, and named the victims as Horn Srey Vet, 18, and Phorn Makara, 23.
At the end of last year, a huge casino fire at the Grand Diamond casino in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet killed at least 28 people.
Workers who escaped the building spoke of a lack of fire alarms and sprinklers, blocked exits and the company taking equipment out of the buildings before rescuing those who were trapped.
At the time, authorities said the province would look into legal action, but nothing has transpired.
Banteay Meanchey provincial spokesperson Sek Sokhom and Ros Sarom, head of the provincial labor department, could not be reached on Tuesday.
Sihanoukville also experienced a separate casino fire earlier this year on the ninth floor of the Jin Bei casino in Buon commune on January 19, according to a police report. No one died in the Jin Bei fire.