Anutep Cheisakron / AP
BANGKOK — At least 13 people were killed and dozens injured when a fire ripped through a crowded music pub in eastern Thailand early Friday morning, police and rescue workers said.
A video circulating on social media shows people fleeing the pub as thick black smoke billows from the door, and then the entrance through which people were fleeing is suddenly engulfed in flames. Several people’s clothes were on fire as they left the pub. Rescuers reported that more than three dozen people were injured.
The cause of the fire at the Mountain B pub in Chonburi province’s Sattahip district, about 100 miles southeast of Bangkok, is under investigation, provincial police chief Major General Attasit Kijahan told PPTV television news. He said the owner and staff of the pub were giving evidence at the police station and a team of police experts would collect evidence at the scene. Police said the fire broke out around 12:45 p.m
Several witnesses said they saw smoke and fire on the ceiling near the 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 shouted ‘fire’ and threw the microphone away.”
“I am very shocked. But I was lucky that when I saw the fire, I was able to pull myself together and get out of there,” she said, adding that she saw several security guards at the pub with their clothes on fire.
A waitress at the venue, Thanyapat Sornsuvanhiran, also told Thai television reporters that she saw smoke near the stage.
“I was yelling ‘fire’ to the customers and I was at the door so I directed them. I kept shouting ‘fire, fire’ and the guards were also helping to get people out,” she said.
Police Chief Atasit said the club had three entrances: the front, the side near the cashier to unload merchandise, and the back. Thailand’s public broadcaster TPBS reported that the back door is often closed.
A DJ at the pub, who did not identify himself, told PPTV that the fire spread quickly, about a minute later when he heard the sound of an explosion shattering windows.
The pub was lined with flammable soundproofing and it took firefighters two hours to put out the blaze, Manop Teprith of the private emergency services group told the TV channel. His group reported 40 wounded.
One of Thailand’s biggest fires in decades occurred at a nightclub in the country’s capital, Bangkok, during New Year’s celebrations in 2008-2009, killing 66 people and injuring more than 200. This Santika nightclub fire also started in the ceiling above the stage, apparently caused by indoor fireworks. Toxic smoke filled the room as the entire club caught fire.