A raging inferno ripped through a crowded neighbourhood in Dongpalane Thong village, Sisattanak district Vientiane on Monday night, gutting more than 20 houses and leaving more than 15 families homeless.
The fire broke out at around 10:30pm on Monday evening and spread rapidly due to the crowded nature of the neighbourhood and also the evening breeze which served to only further fan the flames.
Deputy Head of the village Mr Somchanh Bounleud told the press yesterday that the fire damaged 20 rooms of a row house as well as five free standing houses in the area.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze but it is thought that the most likely explana tion is lighted candles due to local festivities.
Vientiane Times went to the scene of the fire on Monday evening to see hundreds of local and foreign residents rushing to move their things out of their houses as the fire threatened to spread.
Witnesses reported that the fire started at around 10:30 pm but efforts to extinguish it were once again delayed due to the late arrival of electricity workers who had to cut the power before water tankers could be put into use.
An official from the Vientiane Fire Fighting Department explained that it took about 20-30 minutes before the electricity was cut and they could start spraying water. The officials confirmed that this is not the first time that the electricity section has been late in arriving at the scene.
The area was located along a small path between Dongpalane and Phonsinuan roads and the houses were closel y spaced so this also complicated efforts to fight the fire.
The fire brigade official said all they could do was dispatch what crews could access down the small path in the task of stopping the fire from spreading.
Some local residents were angry that firefighters did not bring the other waiting trucks into an adjacent small path to fight the fire from another angle.
However officials responded that the other path was simply too small to accommodate a fire truck.
It took the fire brigade about four hours to bring the blaze under control, by which time the houses in question were completely gutted.
There have been eight fires so far in Vientiane in 2015; six fires occurred in January and there have been another two fires in the first two days of February.
According to the General Police Department of the Ministry of Public Security, there were 158 fires across the country in 2014, an increase of 14 fires compared with 2013.
Last year, fires damaged 194 houses, three factories, 751 shops, 22 apartments, one rice mill, one restaurant and a monks’sleeping quarters. Vientiane recorded the most fires in Laos with 86 fires while damages exceeded 190 billion kip.
Source: Vientiane Times