No, I don’t like fires. (In fact, in this country, they completely freak me out. They have had a history of wiping out entire markets, city streets, and communities.) But what I do appreciate is the response.
We were surrounded by complete and utter chaos within a four block radius. Motorbikes were stopping and crowds of people gathering on sidewalks, raising their eyes to take in the sights. Every security guard in the vicinity became pseudo traffic police, shuffling people around and blocking off roads. Bystanders milled around the streets and corners, snapping photos on their mobile devices (yes, me too). I even saw a few tourists riding around on their bicycles, clutching a camera with one hand looking for an exciting photo op.
As fire licked away at the upper level of a cinder block structure (apparently a school) not even a full block away from where we ate lunch, I was thankful for a couple of things.
A. that it appeared containable – thanks to the concrete.
B. That within minutes, a fire truck was stationed in front of the building, a lone fireman blasting water into the inferno.
C. That it appeared that no one was injured or a casualty of the blaze (thankfully it is Chinese New Year and no students/teachers were present at the school that was on fire – as confirmed by my colleague).
And D. That in the midst of chaos, there were a few things to giggle about. (Like us looking as ridiculous as everyone else, stopping our motorbike, snooping out the story and trying to get a good photo – which I was unsuccessful at as you can see in the blurry image I managed to capture.)
Just another day in Cambodia. And one that I am grateful for.