Thailand’s biggest shopping complex will remain closed until fire safety at the mall and adjoined hotels and restaurants has been upgraded following Wednesday’s deadly CentralWorld blaze, Bangkok’s governor said today.
Gov. Aswin Kwangmuang said all of the 16-storey complex will not reopen until the cause of the fire that killed two and injured 20 is determined and the fire-suppression system checked.
The fire broke out on the eighth floor the Centara Grand at 5:40 p.m. forcing an evacuation.
Authorities said the blaze was controlled by 6:40 p.m., but not until after a trapped staffer, Chakchai Charoenlarp, 50, fell out of a smoke-filled fourth-floor window as he gasped for air.
A second employee – Arthit Khamsai, 50 – jumped out of a window and died later at Chulalongkorn Hospital.
Fifteen others remained hospitalized today for smoke inhalation.
CentralWorld operator Central Pattana, in a press statement issued today, hit back against claims its fire alarms did not ring, saying the huge complex has compartmentalized alarms so those in unaffected areas don’t panic.
The alarm on the B2 and eighth floors did ring, the mall operator said. The basement floor had a vent from where smoke billowed out.
Central Pattana said the alarm system worked as designed and that – should all mall alarms ring at once – would lead to panic and injuries during an evacuation.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Thawatchai Mekprasertsuk, deputy commander of the Police Forensic Science Office, said experts were checking the building plan, structure and fire-protection systems.
He ruled out speculation by Pathumwan District Chief Phinit Arayasilpathorn that it began on the B2 floor where the Bangkok Central Convention Centre at CentralWorld is located, and spread through a ventilation duct.
Mr Phinit did confirm that the sprinklers and other firefighting systems worked normally during the fire. Central Pattaya also said it has smoke detectors and fire-assessment systems in place and that the entire CentralWorld complex runs fire drills several times a year.