A fire yesterday tore through a tutorial school in Nakhon Ratchasima, causing more than 100 students to flee for safety while 27 others were caught inside and had to be rescued off the roof by firemen.
No deaths were reported.
The blaze spurred a media investigation into fire safety measures at more than 100 such local schools in the northeastern province. Only onethird could produce a permit or licence to operate.
The 27 students trapped on the third floor of the shophouse housing the privately run Teacher Jaew Tutorial School opened windows and screamed for help after they could not use the fire exits as the flames spread rapidly.
More than 100 students in rooms on the first and second floors managed to dash out of the fourstorey building after power transformers on the second floor exploded and immediately caught on fire.
The 27 students, led by a tutor who is a son of owner Phanatchakorn Singkitcharoen, went up to the roof after the heat and smoke became more intense. All were taken down via ladders attached to rescue trucks shortly after.
Police said that while the cause of the fire was under investigation, the building had been declared offlimits and the school closed by the municipal public works office.
Some students complained of a burning sensation in their eyes and noses while others had choked on the dense smoke. They were treated at many hospitals and released.
Phedejsuek Choteklang a senior government educator, said about 150 tutorial schools were located in Nakhon Ratchasima and nearby provinces but only 50 were legal.
He said his office was powerless to take action against them without authority granted by any law, and could only ask them to cooperate by registering.