Fire at Grand Tower Inn leaves 1 dead, 11 injured
The Grand Tower Inn has been declared completely off-limits by the city after a raging inferno ripped through most floors yesterday, leaving one hotel worker dead and 11 people, including several foreigners, hospitalised with smoke inhalation.
"We quickly evacuated guests while we were trying to control the blaze," said Preeda Ketcharoen, a hotel receptionist.
Investigators were looking into suspicious circumstances surrounding the source of the fire.
Hotel staff reported that the first fire alarm went off on the seventh floor and responded immediately. They saw a cart stacked with bed sheets on fire. But soon they came across more bed-sheet trolleys on fire on the fifth and sixth floors.
The eight-floor building at the entrance of Charoen Nakhon Soi 14/2 in Klong San district has been operating as a hotel for more than 10 years.
Guest registrations showed 20 rooms were occupied, including the one where Pongsakorn Boon-aram, a 45-year-old waiter, was found dead.
"I don't know how he got into that room," Preeda said.
"It was locked from the inside."
A female guest who had booked that room left her key card at the counter before going out at around 11pm on Saturday.
"I think we will have to check footage from security cameras," he said.
Pongsakorn had chronic health problems and often fainted, he said.
Acharawadee Chaisuwirat, director of the Klong San District Office, said Pongsakorn did not suffer any burns but had blood and soot around his nose.
Pol Maj General Rassadakorn Yingyong, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 8, said six police investigators had been interrogating all guests and hotel staff, but the cause of the fire could not yet be determined.
"At this point, the fire that finally engulfed the building seems to have come from the storage room on the first floor," he said.
Acharawadee said 11 people were hospitalised and three of them were in intensive care. The three were a Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
"Two other victims are still receiving treatment at the hospital but their conditions are not serious," she said.
Dr Petchpong Kumjornkijjakarn, director of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Erawan Centre, said all the patients showed symptoms of smoke inhalation.
Pol Lt Colonel Avudh Udomrat, an inspector at Samray Police Station, received the report on the fire at around 2am. The BMA quickly dispatched 10 fire engines to the scene and found thick smoke billowing out from the third up to the seventh floors. Cranes of some fire trucks were used to rescue several guests who had called for help from their room balconies.
It took the firemen more than one hour to control the conflagration.
"We're worried that the heat from the fire might have weakened the structure of the building, so we have restricted access pending detailed inspection and examination by the BMA's Public Works Department," Acharawadee said.
Decho Iamcheerangkoon, managing director of Grand Tower Inn, suspected arson.
"I will ask the inn's manager if the hotel has fired any employee recently or quarrelled with any guest," he said.
Acharawadee said the property's safety equipment and measures have passed annual inspections and are up to standards.
Decho said Dhipaya Insurance would help estimate the damages from the fire.
"We have third-party insurance too," he said.