Police: Short circuit probable cause of temple fire

Police: Short circuit probable cause of temple fire

Police inspect the scene of the fire that killed Phra Ajarn Sudjai Thanthamano, 75, abbot of Wat Pa Ban Tad in Udon Thani. (Photo: Yuttapong Kamnodnae)
Police inspect the scene of the fire that killed Phra Ajarn Sudjai Thanthamano, 75, abbot of Wat Pa Ban Tad in Udon Thani. (Photo: Yuttapong Kamnodnae)

UDON THANI: Investigators believed a short circuit was a probable cause of a fire at Wat Pa Ban Tad forest temple that killed revered abbot Phra Ajarn Sudjai Thanthamano.

Pol Lt Gen Damrongsak Kittipas, assistant national police chief, on Thursday led senior police officers and deputy Udon Thani governor Wanchai Chanporn to inspect the fire-gutted living quarters of Phra Ajarn Sudjai Thanthamano, the abbot of the temple, who lost his life in the blaze. 

Phra Ajarn Sudjai, 75, was inside his living quarters when the fire broke out at Wat Pa Ban Tad in Muang district in the afternoon on May 22. Monks, novices and laymen tried to put out the fire and rescue the abbot, who was trapped inside. Firemen later sprayed water to douse the fire. When the flames subsided, the monks rushed in to bring the abbot out. He was brought to a van and rushed to Udon Thani but died en route.

Pol Lt Gen Damrongsak said the death of the abbot in the fire drew public attention. Police handling the case have so far interrogated 22 witnesses to find the cause of the fire and the death of the abbot.

The officers found no traces of a struggle or bruises on the body of the late abbot. There was no evidence suggesting that the fire was an arson attack or the work of men. The investigators gave more weight to the electric system as a possible cause of the fire, said the assistant national police chief, who spoke after a meeting with the investigators, forensic officers and electricians.

Pol Maj Gen Damrongsak made the remarks following online speculation on the cause of the fire at the famous forest temple associated with the late Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno.

Phra Ajarn Sudjai served as the abbot of Wat Kesornsilakul, widely known as Wat Pa Ban Tad, since the passing of Luangta Maha bua in 2011.

Kobkiart Kanchana, caretaker of the temple, said donations for the cremation of Phra Ajarn Sudjai now stood at 20 million baht. Several agencies suggested part of the money should be used to improve fire prevention at the temple, he said.

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