Shophouse fire claims two workers
Two people died and 11 others were injured in a fire yesterday at a shophouse near Sampeng market on Ratchawong Road in Bangkok's Samphanthawong district.
Pol Lt Col Pollawat Phromsorn of Chakkrawat police station said the bodies were found inside a three-storey building occupied by Ratchawong Rungrueng, a company that sells plastic, cotton bags and paper boxes.
Police identified the victims as Jirapatch Summak, 52, a cashier, and Petch Deum, 34, a worker from Myanmar. They were found on the first and second floors of the damaged shophouse.
Police said they believe a power transformer near the building exploded at 11.25am, triggering a fire on the second floor of the building.
The fire quickly burnt the flammable products inside, sending plumes of smoke into the sky.
Firefighters deployed from the Suan Mali rescue station to combat the flames.
The fire was brought under control about one hour after it began. A total of six shophouses burnt down and 11 people, mostly volunteers fighting the fire, were injured.
The 11 were sent to Klang and Hua Chiew hospitals for treatment.
Suchart Kittirudikul, owner of Ratchawong Rungrueng, said the transformer had exploded before.
He said he had told the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) to check its equipment.
According to eyewitness Jittra Atjai, who works at the shophouse, MEA officers visited the site yesterday about 11am to check the equipment.
She said she heard an explosion twice before the fire started from the power transformer.
Mr Suchart said initial damage is at 10 million baht and that he will sue the MEA over the incident.
Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt visited the site about 4.30pm yesterday.
He said City Hall will work with the MEA to check the quality of its cables and transformers in the area.
"This is an expensive lesson. We must learn to solve this kind of problem before it happens again elsewhere," he said.