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Kaw Meechai tells how she ran to save her son in the blaze

Lucky Escape as Phuket Blaze Makes 85 Homeless

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Fire Photo Album Above

A GAS explosion in a Phuket sea gypsy village sparked a blaze that led to the destruction of 17 homes yesterday afternoon.

Today help was coming by the pickup load for 85 people made homeless at Hin Lookdew, in the island's north, as one mother told of her young son's lucky escape.

The boy, aged 18 months, was asleep at home when Kaw Meechai, 30, heard the explosion and saw there was danger as the flames took hold close to her house.

She ran back into the maze of houses and managed to lift her boy to safety.

Another resident who returned as the blaze spread was Leg Suwansiri, 41. She owned a shop in the middle of the houses. But by the time she got to the scene, the fire had reached her shop.

She knew there were three gas bottles inside, so she told others to stay clear.

Firemen were called about 1.30pm but took about three hours to bring the blaze under control.

The lack of easy access made their job difficult. Because the homes were mostly of timber and corrugated iron and constructed closely together, the blaze took hold and spread easily.

It eventually cause damage estimated at two million baht.

Today the wreckage still smouldered, as a lone dog guarded one destroyed house. A motorcycle with sidecar could be spotted behind the yellow tape that surrounded the destroyed houses.

Acrid smoke filled the air. It was plain that the fire came close to taking other houses. Two on the edge had lost one wall to the flames.

This afternoon, rice cookers were stacked on a table for distribution, villagers were sitting around planning what to do next, and Phuket charity foundations and officials began arriving by the van load to assess how they could help.

The Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, was at the scene yesterday. The blaze families are likely to be housed with neighbors or in tents until their homes can be rebuilt.

Gifts for the victims can be left at Provincial Hall.

Hin Lookdew is in the island's far north, close to the Tachatchai checkpoint.

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