Surat Co-op fire put out

Surat Co-op fire put out

Flames engulf the Surat Thani Cooperative in Phunphin district of Surat Thani, late Friday night.
Flames engulf the Surat Thani Cooperative in Phunphin district of Surat Thani, late Friday night.

Firefighters on Saturday morning put out a blaze at the Surat Thani Cooperative, founded by politician-turned-monk Suthep Thaugsuban. No one was injured in the blaze, which caused damage estimated at 50 million baht.

The fire broke out in the cooperative's warehouse in Phunphin distruct on the Surat Thani mainland at about 11pm on Friday. It then expanded to shops and a food centre. About 20 fire engines were mobilised and it took more than two hours to control the blaze initially.

Sompong Duangsuwan, a guard volunteer at the cooperative, said he heard six explosions before seeing the fire spread quickly through the cooperative's buildings. Cooking-gas cylinders in the food centre exploded when firefighters were trying to extinguish the blaze.

Surat Thani army commander Maj Gen Kuakul Innajak said it was strange that the fire happened at about the same time as the car bomb at the Central Festival mall on Koh Samui off the Surat Thani mainland, and another fire at the Super Cheap convenience store in Takua Thung district of Phangnga province.

He said the incidents might involve national security and needed an in-depth investigation.

The fire at the Surat Thani Cooperative erupted again from the debris at about 5am on Saturday and firefighters managed to put it out at about 10.30am.

Pisant Mohpraman, manager of the cooperative, said the damage was estimated at about 50 million baht.

The Surat Thani Cooperative was founded by Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee who is now in the monkhood. Phra Suthep is a Surat Thani native and the southern province has been his political stronghold.

He had led protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government in 2013-14. He was a key member of the Democrat Party, the arch rival of the Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra, a younger sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The remains of Surat Thani Cooperative on Saturday after the fire that broke out late Friday night. (Photos by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

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