Fire exposes Phi Phi’s weakness

KRABI: Phi Phi Don Island’s fire safety standards and fire fighting capabilities were called into question after fire destroyed shops, guesthouses and a hotel Tuesday evening.

The fire on Phi Phi Don, a popular tourist island in South Thailand that is also part of a national park, was first reported by Khao Sod News that confirmed  100 tourists had to evacuate accommodation on the island.

The fire, caused by a faulty gas tank according to sources, took about three hours to extinguish.

Almost immediately, safety equipment, alarms, building materials and even a shortage of water were blamed for the fire.

The crowded streets packed with shops, guests houses and small hotels lack fire safety equipment and many were built with sub-standard materials and poor electrical wiring.

According to Khao Sod’s report nine people were injured – three Thais, three Argentinians, two Brazilians and one Israeli. Most injuries were due to smoke inhalation.

Local community leaders said residents would now introduce fire-protection-and-control measures.

It was not explained if the island has a fire brigade, or fire fighting units on resident on the island. Around 200 local residents and tourists fought to bring the blaze under control, but in its aftermath officials have been urged to check building standards, including the use of fire-proof materials as well as ensuring there is an adequate high pressure water supply to combat fires.

Phi Phi is made up of six islands, that lie 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Phuket. They are part of the Hat Nopparat Thara-Ko Phi Phi National Park, which covers a 242,437 rai (38,790 ha). Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lee are the largest and most popular holiday spots for visitors.