“We were told about the fire at around 3am [yesterday – February 11],” said Prasert Kruasombat, a firefighter from Thepkrasattri OrBorTor Rescue Center said.
He said that 60 to 70 per cent of the hotel’s roof was destroyed but the walls were basically undamaged. Dozens of firefighters were finally able to put out the blaze around 9am.
“We left the place after the fire stopped but returned there when it reignited around 11am. However, we were able to stop it definitively soon after that,” he said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Thachatchai Police forensics officer but Pol Lt Col Tanate Poungmanee of Thachatchai Police noted that it could not have been caused by an electrical short as power supplies to the site had been cut years ago.
He added that there appeared to be no signs so far that the fire was deliberately set. He theorised that the blaze might have been started accidentally by people “sneaking into the place” to steal metal or cabling or possibly by local fishermen visiting the place and accidentally setting it on fire.
Col Tanate described the resort as an unfinished construction on an area of around four rai.
“There are three main buildings. The fire most likely started in the middle one, built in a dome style in front of the beach,” Col Tanate said. “The middle building has no walls – only cement pillars.”
He said that it was very hard for the firefighters to put out the blaze because of strong winds. However, not much of value was damaged because the uncompleted resort had been left abandoned for years after it was reported as encroaching on Sirinart Marine National Park.
“Construction of the resort stopped around four to five years ago after the DNP reported that it encroached on Sirinart Park,” Col Tanate said.
“After that there was no further construction and the [encroachment] case is still under investigation by Thachatchai police station.”
It was one of the targets of the probe last year led by Damrong Pidech, the then-Director of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).
Col Tanate said that the owner of the hotel is Phuket Peninsula Co, a family-owned company in Bangkok.
The Phuket News understands that Thai hire purchase company Mida also owns 30 per cent of the company, which it bought in 2007 for B210 million after it had been announced that Hyatt would run the resort. Hyatt later pulled out.
Estimation of the damage caused by the blaze must await the arrival in Phuket of the owners. When they do arrive, police will also take the opportunity to question them about the land encroachment, he added.