BANGKOK ( Associated Press) – At least 13 people were killed and dozens injured after a fire broke out at a crowded music pub in eastern Thailand early Friday, police and rescue workers said.
Videos going viral on social media showed people running away from the pub while thick black smoke billowed out from the door and then the entrance from which people were avoiding suddenly engulfed in flames. Many people’s clothes caught fire as they exited the pub. Rescuers said more than three dozen people were injured.
Provincial police chief Major General Athasit Kijjhan told PPTV television news that the cause of the fire was under investigation at the Mountain Bee pub in Sattahip district of Chonburi province, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Bangkok. He said the owner and staff of the pub are giving statements at the police station and the police forensic team will collect evidence at the spot. Police said that the information about the fire was received at around 12:45 am.
Several eyewitnesses said smoke and fire appeared on the roof near the venue, followed by explosions.
“The fire started in the upper right corner of the stage,” an eyewitness identified as Nana told PPTV. “The singer must have seen it too, so she shouted ‘fire’ and threw the microphone.”
“I am quite surprised. But I am lucky that when I saw the fire, I got myself together and was able to get out of there,” she said, adding that she saw several pub security guards setting their clothes on fire.
Thanyapat Sornsuwanhiran, a waitress at the venue, also told Thai television reporters that she saw smoke near the stage.
“I shouted ‘fire’ to the customers, and I was near the door, so I let them out. I kept shouting ‘fire, fire,’ and the security guards were helping people out.”
Police chief Athasit said the club had three entrances: the front, the cashier’s side for unloading and the back. Thai public television station TPBS reported that the back door is often closed.
A DJ at the pub, who did not identify himself, told PPTV that the fire had spread rapidly, in about a minute, when he heard the explosion, windows were smashed.
Manop Theprath of a private emergency services group told the television station that the pub was lined with flammable soundproofing, and it took firefighters two hours to put out the blaze. His group said 40 people were injured.
One of Thailand’s worst fires in recent decades broke out at a nightclub in the capital Bangkok during the 2008–2009 New Year’s Eve celebrations, killing 66 people and injuring more than 200. The fire at Santika Nightclub also broke out on the terrace above a stage, apparently triggered by a fireworks display inside a house. As the entire club caught fire, poisonous smoke filled the venue.