At about 7.40 this morning local outlets and social media in Pattaya are reporting there was a building on fire in Pattaya Walking Street. The building that was damaged was Rock Street Bar and opened less than 6 months ago and it is a shame that it was already destroyed. Photos show that it was completely gutted. The fire department was shown in photos with hoses pouring water to extinguish the blaze from the front of the street. Bystanders reported hearing a noise and the electric transformers out front may have been a cause. It is typical in many places in Pattaya and throughout Thailand to have electric cables suspended on poles above the air, often multiple wires tangled together along with the transformers and other equipment.
Comments on social media indicate that there is support for more regulation of the electricity infrastructure with an urgent need to reorganise the cables which clearly pose a safety hazard of electrocution or as in this case causing a fire and damaging property. Fire codes in Thailand are not necessarily up to Western standards and if you have ever been in a gogo club you will notice the lack of fire exits, often there is only one way out. Luckily in this case the fire happened in the morning when the building was unoccupied and not at night when the club would have been packed with people. Many people have posted on social media that foreign visitors often notice the mass of cables and are asking the city government to do something about it.
Luckily there was a fast response from emergency services before the fire was able to spread. In peak hours traffic on Beach road approaching Walking Street and Pratumnak road can come to a standstill with many songtaews, tourist buses and other vehicles block traffic. It would be more difficult for fire fighters to reach the area. As you can see Walking Street is highly built up with buildings located very close to each other making it easy for fire to spread to other buildings once it starts.
Other social media users have already begun speculating about whether the owner arranged the fire to cash in for the insurance, or that the building was burned due to some mafia feud. There is not any evidence to support such conspiracy theories and it seems fairly obvious that the cause of the fire was a faulty electrical installation. It will be interesting to observe what happens with the site and how quickly it is rebuilt. If it is left vacant and burnt out it will fuel rumours about insurance fraud. Local businesses and authorities will probably want to demolish it quickly to prevent it becoming an eyesore and reminding people of the fire hazard, as it is in a prominent location on a busy street which would remind tourists of the danger of fire when businesses really want visitors to feel relaxed and in the mood for a good time. All in all congratulations to Pattaya emergency services on preventing something worse from happening.