Power safety eyed after fire

Power safety eyed after fire

Chadchart calls for checks after 2 killed

Officials are clearing up the area after a fire engulfed commercial buildings on Ratchawong Road near Sampeng market in Samphanthawong district, Bangkok, on Sunday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Officials are clearing up the area after a fire engulfed commercial buildings on Ratchawong Road near Sampeng market in Samphanthawong district, Bangkok, on Sunday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt will ask the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) to inspect the safety of some 400 power transformers and power lines across Bangkok after a fire in the busy Sampeng market killed two people on Sunday.

Mr Chadchart said the BMA will coordinate with the MEA over the checks while the MEA will also work with the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and police to investigate the source of the fire.

The BMA will speed up laying electricity cables underground to prevent more incidents, he said.

The safety of buildings, fire exits, fuel containers, and fire extinguishers in public areas will likewise be checked to curb fire hazard risks.

People have also been urged to look out for any faulty transformers and cables.

One of the two people killed was a foreign worker. A further 11 people were injured by the fire.

The blaze raced through seven shophouses and three vehicles, according to Samphanthawong district office.

Witnesses said they saw smoke coming from a power transformer at the mouth of Soi Kikuya, and then a fire moved quickly through the adjacent shophouses, some of which sold cardboard boxes and paper.

Thanes Weerasiri, president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT), said, after a preliminary inspection of the damaged site, there was no substantive evidence pointing to the transformer having started the blaze.

Mr Thanes, however, did not rule out the possibility that electrical and communication cables near the transformer could have sparked the fire.

MEA governor Wilas Chaloeysat said the authority was working closely with forensic experts to determine the cause of the fire.

Engineers, the MEA, police and City Hall and Samphanthawong district officials made an initial damage assessment that put the cost of the damage in Sampheng at 30 million baht.

The MEA said on Sunday it would take responsibility if the blaze was caused by the transformer which had been in use for 20 years and was subject to a safety inspection last year.

Normally, a transformer has a life of 25 years.

Mr Thanes said two shophouses was seriously damaged by the fire and they were in danger of collapsing.

Sopa Kiatniracha, an inspector at the Labour Ministry, said the ministry was looking at what labour welfare would be offered to those fire victims registered with the social security system.

The Sampheng fire was the second major blaze in Bangkok in less than a week.

A fire in the Bon Kai community destroyed 30 houses, but there were no injuries or deaths.

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