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Major fire in Bangkok’s Chinatown injures dozens, damages hotels

BANGKOK – A major fire broke out in the Trok Pho community of Bangkok’s Chinatown on July 6, injuring two firefighters, and at least 30 people were affected by the fumes.

The Rama 199 Radio Centre received a report of a fire in the Trok Pho community in Yaowarat Road in the Samphanthawong district at 8.42pm that day.

Firefighters and rescue teams from 11 stations, and more than 30 fire engines were deployed. It took three hours to bring the blaze under control.

The fire broke out in a narrow alley that had only one hydrant, making it difficult for the firefighting team to access water. Firefighters had to coordinate with nearby disaster relief units to help contain the fire.

Preliminary information indicated that the fire started at house No. 12. A volunteer firefighter who went to extinguish the fire suffered an electric shock, following which power supply was cut off and water trucks were rushed to the scene.

Firefighters had tried to use water to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby buildings, but strong winds quickly spread the fire to the New Empire Hotel, which is adjacent to the community and sustained damage. 

This community is situated in a 3,200 sq m to 4,800 sq m area behind the New Empire Hotel.

Rescue teams used basket cranes to evacuate three people trapped inside the hotel, and urged those trapped inside to open their windows to facilitate the rescue operation.

The flames also spread to a five-storey commercial building housing the Tai Xing Hotpot and Dim Sum Restaurant.

There were reports of flames on the fifth floor, where gas cylinders were stored. Firefighters had to use a basket crane to spray water and prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings.

By 10.30pm, firefighters had managed to confine the flames to the Trok Pho community. They continued to spray water late into the night to prevent the fire from flaring up again. It was brought under control slightly after midnight.

All injured individuals were taken to designated screening points and then taken to hospital for treatment. 

Police are coordinating with the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and the Samphanthawong District Office to establish a support centre for those affected by the fire at the district office, where more than 200 people have registered for assistance.

Many of the affected people took shelter in nearby temples. A number of migrant workers who rented homes in the Trok Pho community were also affected and will receive help.

Two hotels were also damaged by the fire, forcing all guests to check out and wait to retrieve their belongings.

Police closed Yaowarat Road from the Chalerm Buri intersection to the Odeon Circle to ensure the safety of tourists, who frequently visit the bustling Yaowarat area.

Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt visited the site at around 12.30am on July 7 to assess the damage and the response to the fire, which caused extensive damage.

The governor was accompanied by director of the Bangkok Metropolitan Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department Suriyachai Rawiwan, and executives of the Samphanthawong District Office.

Mr Chadchart explained that the Trok Pho community was primarily made up of wooden houses, which served as fuel for the fire.

The exact number of houses affected cannot yet be determined, he said, adding information from residents indicated that out of the 65 houses in the Trok Pho community, only some were damaged by the fire.

Forensic teams were expected to start the investigation on the morning of July 7.

Bangkok has established temporary shelters for the affected individuals at Wat Traimitr Withayaram Worawihan, Wat Samphanthawong, Wat Chai Chana Songkhram (Wat Tuek), and the Pichai Yat Building at the Samphanthawong District Office.

Yaowarat Road was reopened to normal traffic at 2am. – THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK