Phuket City Police and emergency services were notified of the fire, at the Asian Phuket Marine and Dockyard in Rassada, near the entrance to the Saphan Pla Pier on the east side of Phuket Town, at 1:30pm.
Firefighters on four fire trucks arrived at the scene to be confronted with dark smoke billowing out of the boat, which was on the hardstand undergoing repairs.
With strong wind fanning the flames, and nearby boats also sustaining minor damage from the fire, the firefighters took 90 minutes to bring the fire under control.
Initial estimates valued the damage done at more than B4-5 million, said police.
Yodsanat Songkeatwong, the owner of the shipyard, told police that the boat had been on stands undergoing repairs since July 31.
The repairs were scheduled to be completed and the boat relaunched this Thursday (Aug 9).
Lt Col Chatchai Choonu and Capt Wetchasak Jun-Adung of the Phuket City Police noted in their initial report that the boat was 20 metres long, six metres wide, and registered to carry 125 passengers with a complement of captain and crew totalling six.
However, the registered name of the boat and its owner and operator were not recorded in the report.
Mechanics were working on the boat this afternoon, Mr Yodsanat said, adding that he was preparing to have another boat brought down from its supports when he saw the front of the boat on fire and the flames rapidly spreading.
Mr Yodsanat said that he shouted to workers inside the boat to extinguish the fire, but their efforts failed, prompting him to call the emergency fire service hotline 199.
After questioning people at the scene, police at this stage believe the was started by sparks from cutting iron falling onto a “sofa”.
However, police noted that they will investigate further and have forensic police inspect the scene.
Of note, within metres of the boat on fire today was the Ao Nang Princess 3, the sister ship of the Ao Nang Princess 5, which caught fire and sank mid-transit on a day cruise from Phi Phi to Phuket via Nopparatthara Beach in Krabi in 2015.
The Ao Nang Princess 5 had 115 passengers – 107 adults and 8 children – on board, of whom 34 were injured, with 12-year-old Shani Maril, who was on holiday in Thailand with her parents, the sole fatality of the disaster. (See story here.)
An initial investigation by police concluded that the fire was not caused by careless maintenance. (See story here.)