Gutted Phuket pubs operating hours checked

Above: The Tiger disco after a fire ripped through the nightclub overnight in the seaside resort of Patong on Thailand's southern island of Phuket on August 17, 2012.

The Tiger Discotheque in Phuket, which was gutted in a fire that killed four people last week, has been declared off-limits, while an independent group of architects has recommended demolishing the structure's second floor and a deck.

It will be known in a few days if Tiger Discotheque was operating illegally after hours, provincial Governor Tree Akkharadecha said yesterday.

The municipality yesterday restricted entry into the building that houses the pub, while the Association of Siamese Architects under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King said the heavily damage deck and the entire the second floor should be taken down.

The provincial police chief and his deputy would be "invited" to clarify the operating hours, why two exits could not be used during the fire, and whether the venue was open beyond the legal limit of 2am.

Highly flammable polystyrene had been used to make decorative items in the venue, possibly in violation of the law, said Bundit Pradabsuk, the head of the association. After the Santika Pub fire in Bangkok - which killed many people on New Year's eve in 2009 - polystyrene had been banned, he added.

Bundit did not give the legal timeframe for owners of venues to change from polystyrene to other substances.

He said there were eight fire exits at Tiger Discotheque, while the law only required six.

A lawyer representing the venue said the fire exits caught fire, preventing patrons from using them and forcing them to flee through the front gate.

The Provincial Electricity Authority has already dismissed an electrical short circuit as the cause, as cited by the lawyer.

An inspection of fire safety features and all entertainment venues in Phuket is underway to find any violations, the governor said.

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