Thailand does not have good fire safety. It really is that simple. So, that two foreign tourists have died in a fire at the Grand Park Avenue Hotel in Bangkok on Sukhumvit Soi 22 last night, no, it’s not too surprising unfortunately. That it’s the second major fire in Bangkok in a high-rise structure in less than a week — no, not surprising there either.
The fire at the Grand Park Avenue Hotel, a 3-star hotel in downtown Bangkok, broke out last night around 9:30 pm. The Bangkok fire department that responded said they believe the fire started in a fifth floor conference room and spread quickly (shades of last Saturday’s fire at the Fico Building in Bangkok, where sprinklers didn’t work maybe?).
Foreign tourists were quickly evacuated from the hotel but some were trapped on the fourth floor, as well as on higher floors. As many Bangkok hotels do not have adequate fire escapes, it’s highly likely this was the cause. The fire department had to send cranes up to the higher floors to get some of the guests out.
The fire department did manage to bring the fire under control shortly after 11pm but, by that point, one Russian woman had died from smoke inhalation, while a Western man was discovered close to death on the seventh floor. Fire department officials say he died of smoke inhalation.
Fire safety as well as fire safety inspections are dismal in Thailand. That is why, here at Tasty Thailand, we always advise people to not stay in hotels that do not have adequate fire escapes. By that we mean fire escapes that are close to your room, well lit, not locked or blocked by garbage cans or other items, and that have a clear escape path to the outside. Too many people die in fires in Thailand and, so far, it’s only luck and not good management that more have not been foreign tourists.
One thing is for sure, last night’s fire at the Grand Park Avenue Hotel in Bangkok and the two tragic deaths is just one more blot on Thailand’s already stained tourist industry. Very sad, indeed.
Update, March 10th, 2012– For the first 24 hours after the fire, Thai officials were saying two tourists had died in the fire. Currently, the death toll stands at one tourist, a 30-year-old Russian woman, and another Russian, a man, is still in intensive care in worsening condition.
Update, March 12th, 2012 – A second Russian tourist has now died as a result of the fire at the Grand Park Avenue Hotel. He was the husband of the Russian woman who died on the day of the fire.