The swift action of neighbours helped to save several people’s lives after they were trapped in a fire that swept through a 19th-century shop-house in Bangkok early Monday.
Eleven Cambodian tenants of the house in Praeng Nara Road were blinded by the smoke and unable to find their way out of the two-storey building as it was engulfed in flames.
Happily, neighbours forced open the front-door lock and let them out. Pol Capt Lertchai Fualongchai, deputy inspector of Samranraj police station, said no one was injured in the fire at 1am, although the building itself was badly damaged.
Fire engines took about half an hour to put out the blaze after it swept through the old building’s 13 units.
The two-storey shop-house, which has rented rooms both in the back of the ground floor and upstairs. was built with concrete on the ground floor and wood on the first floor.
Lertchai said the blaze is believed to have begun in a downstairs common area containing coined laundry machines.
A Cambodian woman, 26-year-old Sailuad Son, one of 11 Cambodian workers who rented rooms in the shop-house, said she saw smoke coming from upstairs and her friends running downstairs but all of them were trapped inside as the smoke prevented them from seeing how to get out until the neighbours’ intervention.
Lertchai said the house is owned by Wisanu Prawat, 67, who lived in another shop-house nearby. He would later be summoned for questioning at the police station.
Lertchai said the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
The shop-houses on the Praeng Nara road were built during the reign of King Rama V by a son of King Rama IV and the property is now owned by the Crown Property Bureau. There are about 100 units of the old shop-houses left and have been rented out for several years.