SuperCheap 'unprepared' for fires

PHUKET : Experts blame inadequate fire prevention measures for the blaze at the SuperCheap discount shopping complex last week and voiced concern over similar buildings on the resort island.

The single-storey complex with a wooden ceiling burned down on Wednesday night.

The shopping mall was poorly equipped to cope with fire, said Lt Col Bandit Pradapsuk, vice-chairman of the Association of Siamese Architects.

He reached his conclusion after leading an inspection of the store, which is now a charred wreck on a 35-rai plot on Thepkasatri Road in Muang district.

"The building did not have appropriate fire exits and there was no adequate access for fire trucks," Lt Col Bandit said.

He asked why such a large building, which employed more than 2,700 staff and received hundreds of customers every day, had not been fitted with better fire control measures.

Lt Col Bandit called for inspections of other large buildings on the island.

Meanwhile, residents living near the complex have expressed concern about a large volume of water used to douse the fire polluting their neighbourhood.

The water has turned putrid, according to provincial authorities who met yesterday to discuss the fire. They said the water had no way to drain off.

Phuket governor Maitree Inthusut, who chaired the meeting, ordered officials to find an immediate solution.

Another fire broke out at a market near Karon beach yesterday morning.

Karon Plaza, an outdoor market in Muang district, caught fire and seven clothing and shoe shops were destroyed.

The damage was estimated at 500,000 baht, authorities said.

Prakhong Loetsungnoen, a security guard at a nearby hotel, told police he saw the fire break out just before 6am and spread quickly. Fighters took about 30 minutes to control the blaze.

Police are investigating the cause.

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Writer: Achadtaya Chuenniran
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