BANGKOK — At least 13 people were killed and dozens injured when a fire broke out early Friday morning at a crowded music pub in eastern Thailand, police and rescue workers said.
Video circulating on social media showed people fleeing the pub as thick black smoke billowed from the door, then the entrance through which people were escaping was suddenly engulfed in flames. Several people’s clothes were on fire as they left the pub. Rescuers said more than three dozen people were injured.
The cause of the fire at Mountain B pub in Sattahip district of Chonburi province, about 160km southeast of Bangkok, is under investigation, the provincial police chief said, Major General Atthasit Kijjahan, on PPTV. He said the pub owner and staff were giving statements to the police station and the police forensic team would be collecting evidence at the scene. Police said the fire was reported around 12:45 a.m.
Several witnesses described seeing smoke and fire on the ceiling near the venue stage, followed by the sound of explosions.
“The fire started in the upper right corner of the stage,” a witness identified only as Nana told PPTV. “The singer must have seen it too, so he yelled ‘fire’ and threw the mic away.”
“I’m pretty shocked. But I’m lucky that when I saw the fire I was able to pull myself together and get out of there,” she said, adding that she had seen several guards from pub security with their clothes on fire.
A waitress on site, Thanyapat Sornsuwanhiran, also told Thai TV reporters that she saw smoke near the stage.
“I yelled ‘fire’ to customers, and I was near the doors, so I got them out. I kept yelling ‘fire, fire’ and the security guards were also helping to make get people out,” she said.
Police Chief Atthasit said the club had three entrances: at the front, at the side near the cashier for unloading goods and at the back. Thai public broadcaster TPBS reported that the back door is often locked.
An unidentified pub DJ told PPTV the fire spread rapidly, within about a minute, when he heard the sound of an explosion, smashing windows.
The pub was lined with flammable soundproofing and it took firefighters two hours to put out the blaze, Manop Theprith from a private emergency services group told the TV station. His group said 40 people were injured.
One of Thailand’s deadliest fires in decades occurred at a nightclub in the capital, Bangkok, during a New Year’s Eve celebration in 2008-2009, in which 66 people were killed and more than 200 injured. This fire at Santika nightclub also started on the ceiling above a stage, apparently started by fireworks inside. Toxic smoke flooded the venue as the entire club caught fire.