Faulty wiring, poor construction, hazardous materials in Mountain B fire

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As more and more details emerge about the horrific Mountain B Pub fire that claimed the lives of 15 victims and 38 others hospitalized, The Thaiger continues to provide daily updates on new developments. Yesterday’s can be found here (on victims and owners) and here (on authorities’ response). Read on to find out more about the construction issues and inspections, or click here to find out more about the authorities’ actions regarding the landlord, other club inspections and a viral moment.

Badly wired

Mountain B Nightclub was built on a vast three-rai land where entertainment venues were prohibited. Final details revealed that the building may not have a signal circuit breaker on the electricity – considered vital for electrical safety. The electrician who has just completed the modifications and repairs to the wiring is currently wanted for questioning by the police.

Current theories suggest that a short circuit behind the stage initially ignited the flames which quickly spread through the building, but the distribution and fuse board were completely burned along with most of the cables, which makes it very difficult to trace the fire to a source.

Badly built

Construction of Mountain B had been authorized around 2018 or 2019 after the engineers had studied and approved the plans. It opened just two months ago, operating as a club despite being zoned and licensed only as a restaurant, with the mayor of Sattahip saying the government was unaware of the changes to the use of the club. Mountain B was only licensed to operate as a restaurant, but management says it submitted paperwork on June 12 to obtain a license as an entertainment venue, nearly two months before that fire.

There were only two fire extinguishers for the entire 200 square meter hall.

A board member of the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage has drawn comparisons to the tragedy of the Santika Club fire more than a decade ago. Both had ignored safety rules and had impractical emergency exits with an escape route that was too narrow. They both had low ceilings covered in highly flammable sound-deadening foam.

Foam, tires and fake luxury

Kool Insulation Company, the company that installed the foam panels in the ceiling, yesterday defended its product and its installation as investigators reviewed their work. The owner said the company had 10 years of experience and had done similar installations in nightclubs and industrial plants without any fire incidents. He insisted that the soundproofing panels were fireproof and made from high-quality materials, even playing video of attempts to ignite the panels when the fire failed.

“Our company was hired to install the foam panels in this pub last year and were paid 300,000 baht for our services. We used a material called ‘PU Foam’, which is flame retardant and soundproof. a high-quality material that even obtains safety certificates in Germany.

The presence of used car tires all over the roof also contributed to the speed and intensity of the fire, a factor the owner of Kool Insulation Company blames. These tires, also toxic when burned, were probably used to weigh down the metal roof to dampen the vibrations of loud music inside.

Although soundproofing foam was clearly identified as the main reason the fire engulfed the roof of the building so quickly and caused so many deaths, authorities suggested that faux luxury decor like artificial wood, foam board, carpeting and faux leather are also highly flammable and contributed to the rapid fireball. They also emit thick, often poisonous black smoke when on fire, making escape even more difficult.

Inspections begin

Scaffolding was erected around the burnt-out Mountain B building yesterday and today the forensic team began inspecting the roof after the fire. Further inspections are pending as access inside the charred remains of the club was deemed too dangerous to enter lest the roof collapse on investigators.

For security reasons, the Region 2 OPP Commander ordered investigators to do their work from outside the building only, using scaffolding construction workers set up for them. Police today began removing sheet metal from the roof to take a closer look at the electrical system, or what’s left of it as well.

[To read about authorities’ actions regarding the owner, other club inspections, and a viral moment, click here.]

SOURCE: The Pattaya News 1, 2; MCOT Thai News Agency; National TPN; Thai PBS World; Thai Newsroom

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