CANADIAN co-owner Gregg Layton, 51, said he and his Thai girlfriend, asleep on the second floor, were awakened by cries of ''Fai mai! Fair mai! (fire! fire!) and escaped. Forensics police are expected to establish the cause. One suspect could be a female member of staff who was sacked on Saturday. Mr Layton briefly needed oxygen.
PHUKET: The Kamala Beergarden was destroyed in a four-million baht blaze that consumed the local Phuket landmark early today, distressing its new Thai-Canadian owners.
A pall of smoke engulfed the main street of Kamala, north of Patong on Phuket's west coast, as fire trucks fought the blaze for 30 minutes before extinguishing it.
Guests from the nearby White Hotel and other accommodation in the village centre on the main Kamala-Kalim coast road joined onlookers as flames lit up the night.
The expat part-owner was at the scene as dawn broke today, looking distressed and unwilling to talk to the media.
Kamala Beergarden, bought for a price said to be in the region of four million baht just months ago, has been a popular haunt in Kamala for at least a decade.
Today it was smoke and ashes. Fire trucks from Kamala, Patong and Cherng Talay poured water into the beergarden.
Firemen were not prepared to speculate on the cause of the blaze, which broke out about 5am.
Yet to note the ownership change, the Beergarden's online site says: ''Belgian owner Rudi established the Beergarden in 2001. Traditional Thai styles combine with modern fittings to provide a relaxing environment in which to enjoy a meal or a drink.
''Recently the Beergarden has been refurbished and expanded to include an outside dining area, a separate Cocktail Bar, extra seating and new furnishings. The addition of two pool tables offers further entertainment.
''Rudi seems to have a knack of finding the friendliest people to work with him, and the waitresses and bar staff deliver excellent service, always in a gracious manner and with beautiful smiles.''
The bar complex, open from 2pm to 2am seven days a week, was popular with expats from surrounding coastal destinations.