FIREMEN took two hours to put out the big fire that broke out at Bonkai slum community on Rama 4 road at 1.10 p.m. yesterday (June 21) with 30 houses gutted while Bangkok Governor visited the destroyed community as soon as it was safe to do so and has set up a help centre, Thai Rath newspaper said.
There were almost a hundred mostly wooden houses rented out in the slum community and it was not known which house the blaze started because the fire spread very quickly.
Firemen took over an hour to control the blaze because wood is very flammable and there was strong wind blowing at the time plus not enough fire hydrants with access impeded by narrow lanes.
Initial investigation revealed that the fire was sparked by an electric wire with the flame then quickly spreading to the roof of one of the wooden houses.
Mrs. Srithong Chanhom, 50, said she had lived in one of the rented houses together with her two daughters for seven to eight years now. The rent plus electricity and water charges added up to around 2,000 baht a month.
She mentioned that she had encountered small fires before which were quickly doused but nothing as big as this. In the morning she had gone to work at a hotel while her two daughters went to school.
A neighbour called to say a fire had broken out and she called her daughters to quickly return home while she herself did so on a motorcycle taxi after borrowing 500 baht from a colleague but by the time they got there most of the house had been destroyed with none of their belongings salvageable.
Another man said he lives in Pathum Thani but his dad lives in this community. Upon hearing about the fire he quickly drove there but up to now cannot contact him.
After the firemen managed to fully extinguish the blaze at 3 p.m. it was found that aside from the 30 gutted houses some volunteers had suffered minor injuries on their legs after falling while helping put it out. Four residents suffered smoke inhalation but preliminary inspection found no fatalities,
Later at 3.40 p.m. Chadchart visited the fire-hit slum community and focused on expediting assistance to the victims and setting up a help and a call centre.
Meanwhile Mr. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, said today that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is concerned about the welfare of the fire victims with Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and related agencies having provided primary care and temporary shelter at Bonkai Youth Centre, Naewna newspaper said.
Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt at the fire-hit slum community. Photos: Thai Rath