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4 killed in Din Daeng shophouse fire

Family escapes blaze in Songkhla; Public urged to be careful this Chinese New Year

Authorities have warned people to take safety measures ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations after two fires broke out in Bangkok and Songkhla yesterday.

A family of four was killed in a blaze in Bangkok's Din Daeng district early yesterday, while another fire in Songkhla's Hat Yai district almost killed four others.

Police and two fire engines rushed to the two-storey shophouse restaurant in Soi Prachasongkhro 2 (Sutthipong) in the Din Daeng area at 4.30am and took about 30 minutes to put out the flames, which also damaged some four shophouses in its vicinity.

Upon inspection, police found four charred bodies - later identified as homeowner Surasak Chatmongkol, 36, his wife Tiew, 35, their seven-year-old daughter and three-year-old son - in the bedroom on the second floor. Four other people in the house sustained injuries and were sent to nearby hospitals for treatment.

Pol Colonel Manop Worathanatchakul, superintendent of the Din Daeng Police Station, said the fire was sparked at the victims' restaurant, which had been closed just two hours before the blaze started. Ten relatives had come to stay with the family to prepare for Chinese New Year celebrations in the morning. Police are still looking for the exact cause of fire.

In light of this fatal blaze, Bangkok city's disaster prevention and mitigation chief, Pol Colonel Pichai Kriengwattanasiri, warned people to be careful as fires can be sparked by unattended joss sticks used for worshipping during Chinese New Year. He also asked people to watch out for short circuits resulting from the use of substandard plugs.

Pichai said 35 centres for fire prevention and surveillance manned by 1,800 officials will be set up around the capital until tomorrow. These centres will provide advice to people and check risky areas.

Meanwhile, at around 10am yesterday, a fire broke out in a four-storey shophouse in downtown Hat Yai City, though the homeowner, his wife and two children managed to escape unharmed.

The fire reportedly started from lit joss sticks left at the shrine on the ground floor and quickly spread, damaging a car and a motorcycle parked nearby.

It took the firefighters about 10 minutes to extinguish the fire. The owner of the house Pradit Khonpaen, who owns an auto-accessory business, along with his wife and two daughters was trapped on the fourth floor at the time of the fire. However, they managed to escape to their neighbour's house through the balcony.


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