Resort Owner Questioned Over Beach Fire

The German owner of a beachside Sihanoukville resort that burned to the ground in a massive fire that also destroyed four nearby businesses was released after questioning, police said on Tuesday.

The fire on Thursday at O’Tres Beach started at the Elephant Garden, a restaurant and bungalow accommodation whose owner was identified on Facebook as Marc Bosselmann. The owner was tracked down at a friend’s restaurant in the city’s Ochheuteal Beach area on Friday, and was questioned but not arrested, said Bou Sothy, deputy police chief in Preah Sihanouk province, who is in charge of the city’s fire department.

“We haven’t arrested him because we sought advice from a prosecutor and the prosecutor said we don’t have reasons or evidence to fully inculpate him,” Mr. Sothy said. “He said he also didn’t know about the fire; it happened accidentally.”

A damage estimate has not yet been released for the businesses razed in the fire, which provincial police chief Chuon Narin said on Friday had started when the Elephant Garden’s owner spilled gasoline near a generator and quickly spread through the thatched roof and bamboo structures. Police identified the other burned businesses as the Otres Sailing Club, Banana Beach Bar, Little Dodo and Eataly, a pizza restaurant.

Kim Ladan, a receptionist at the nearby Naia Resort, said more than 100 tourists and local foreigners helped extinguish the fire, including some staying at the places that burned to the ground. “It destroyed personal belongings such as guests’ passports, computers, laptops and…motorbikes, cameras, some money and credit cards,” Mr. Ladan said.

Local residents and expatriates provided clothes for the victims, as some of them had nothing left, he added.

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