BANGKOK — A fire broke out in a busy music pub in Thailand’s eastern Chonburi province early Friday morning and spread quickly, killing at least 13 people and injuring about three dozen, authorities said.
A video from the scene showed people fleeing the burning building, some with their clothes on fire.
Police said they are investigating the cause of the fire. The nightclub was built illegally, without a permit, on a site where entertainment venues were not permitted, as an addition to an existing restaurant, they said.
Witnesses said the fire appeared to start from the roof near the scene and that they heard explosions immediately after it broke out.
Police were investigating reports that an emergency exit was locked at the time of the fire. local media reported. Some news outlets also reported that the fire was sparked by a flammable soundproofing material lining the walls.
A customer who gave her name only as Nana told local broadcaster PPTV that she was sitting near the back of the pub when she first saw a spark near the ceiling above the stage and that the fire spread quickly from there.
“I saw flames above the stage, on the right side,” he said. “The singer saw it on stage at about the same time and shouted ‘fire!’ and threw the microphone at him.”
As she and her friends walked to the door, they saw people’s clothes on fire, she said. “I saw many of the pub boats engulfed in flames inside.” He added that the pub had only recently opened.
The nightspot, Mountain B, is located in the Sattahip district at the southern tip of Chonburi province, about 100 miles southeast of Bangkok. All the victims were Thai citizens, according to police.
Photos of the pub taken after the fire showed a charred stage and sound equipment, the floor covered in ash and water and the remains of tables and stools.
The deadly episode comes as Thailand tries to revive its tourism industry. A major contributor to the national economy, the tourism sector has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and has only recently begun to attract significant numbers of international visitors.
The fire was reminiscent of a deadly blaze that swept through Bangkok’s luxury nightclub Santika just as the new year began in 2009. That fire, which may have been started by fireworks, killed 66 people, many of them foreigners, and injured more than 200. .
Richard C. Paddock reported from Bangkok and Muktita Suhartono from Jakarta, Indonesia.