Investigators said they need about two weeks to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed an Indian nightclub on Walking Street.
Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome on Tuesday led city officials in inspecting the rubble left behind by the Sept. 12 blaze at the Nashaa Club, a day after investigators were forced to abort their work due to remaining heat and smoldering embers, as well as the rickety nature of the remaining structure.
After Pattaya engineers gave the all-clear, investigators began to sift through the ruins in search of the cause of the inferno that threatened to engulf other closed businesses on the Pattaya nightlife strip. Sonthaya praised firefighters for their fast work against intolerable heat, explosions and raging flames that stopped from fire from spreading.
On Sept. 14, Nashaa employees who were providing security for the property, and called authorities when the blaze broke out around 9:30 p.m Sunday, pointed out the area where they believe the fire began: a storage room where alcoholic beverages were stored.
The fire began and was punctuated throughout by large explosions, believed to be natural gas cannisters. No mention was made of those Tuesday.
Few other facts about the fire were released, with Sonthaya saying only that Nashaa’s owners were cooperating and stated that the building was insured for an undisclosed amount.
The mayor took pains to criticize the “false rumors and speculation” that have been rife on social media about the cause of the fire, the building’s insurance policy and motivation for arson.
Nashaa’s owners on Monday posted to social media, urging people to refrain from the rampant, cynical speculation that the club was torched for insurance money due to being closed for five months during the latest coronavirus wave.
Sonthaya also pointed out that the long-running issue of low-hanging bar signs preventing emergency vehicles from traversing Walking Street raised its head again, with near-tragic consequences.
“We saw that crane fire trucks could not easily reach the fire area because of signs in front of businesses. We have to fix this, as the issue has come up before,” Sonthaya said. He said the matter will be addressed as part the planned redevelopment of Walking Street.
Pattaya City Hall for years has complained about the signage, regularly removing those too close to the ground and, at one point, threatening to ban all signs except slim, vertical marquees placed on the fourth floors of each building as they do in nightlife sections of Tokyo, Seoul and Phnom Penh.
The 2017 threat went nowhere after bar owners refused to change signage until the city fixed the street’s power grid, which hasn’t happened until this year.
The mayor noted overhead power and communications lines, along with transformers on utility poles, complicated the disaster response. However, he said, those issues will be resolved by the ongoing burying of overhead wires by the Provincial Electricity Authority.