BANGKOK (AP) — At least 13 people were killed and dozens injured in a fire at a crowded music bar in eastern Thailand early Friday morning, police and rescuers said.
Videos circulating on social media showed people fleeing the bar, thick black smoke billowing from the doors, before the entrance where people fled was suddenly engulfed in flames. When several people came out of the bar, their clothes were on fire. Rescuers said three dozen people were injured.
Provincial police chief Major General Atthasit Kijjahan told PPTV TV news that the cause of the fire at the B Hill Bar in the Sattahip district of Chonburi province, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Bangkok, is under investigation. He said the pub owner and staff were testifying at the police station and a police forensic team would be at the scene to collect evidence.Police said the fire started around 12:45 a.m.
Several witnesses described seeing smoke and flames on the ceiling near the venue’s stage, followed by explosions.
“The fire started from the upper right corner of the stage,” a witness named Nana told PPTV. “The singer must have seen it too, so he called ‘fire’ and threw the microphone away.”
“I was shocked. But I was lucky that when I saw the fire, I could cheer up and get out of there,” she said, adding that she saw the clothes of several bar security guards on fire.
Thanyapat Sornsuwanhiran, a waitress at the venue, also told a Thai TV reporter that she saw smoke near the stage.
“I was yelling ‘fire on’ to customers and I was right near the door, so I led them out. I kept yelling ‘fire, fire’ and the security was helping to get people out,” she said.
Police Chief Atasit said the club has three entrances: at the front, on the side near the cashier for unloading and at the back. Thai public television station TPBS reported that the back door was often locked.
A DJ at the bar, who asked not to be named, told PPTV that the fire spread quickly and about a minute later he heard an explosion and shattered windows.
Manop Theprith of a private emergency services group told the station the pub was lined with flammable soundproofing and it took firefighters two hours to put out the blaze. His team said 40 people were injured.
One of Thailand’s deadliest fires in recent decades was at a nightclub in the capital Bangkok, killing 66 people and injuring more than 200 during New Year’s Eve celebrations in 2008-2009. The fire at the Santika nightclub also started in the ceiling above the stage, apparently started by an indoor fireworks display. Noxious fumes flooded the grounds as the entire club caught fire.