Sattahip Pub’s Owner Admits Fault in Deadly Fire

The owner of a pub that burst into flames in Sattahip has been arrested and taken to a police station after appearing before the police and confessing to all charges.

Pongsiri Panprasong, 27, reported to the Phlu Ta Luang police on Saturday night after the Pattaya Provincial Court issued an arrest warrant for him on two counts. The man was then escorted to the police station building.

The pub owner was subjected to hours of interrogation and has remained behind bars since his arrest. Provincial police have not allowed him to pay bail.

Mr. Pongsiri legally operated Mountain B, which was unlicensed and registered as a restaurant. A fire destroyed the nighttime venue’s facilities early Friday morning, leaving at least 15 people dead and 38 with severe injuries.

At least 100  nightlife revelers were inside the pub when flames began to spread through the soundproofing foam. However, the venue did not have appropriately signaled emergency exits and many customers were unable to flee for their lives.

Authorities launched an investigation to determine the exact cause of the fire.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pongsiri faces two charges: operating a nightspot without a permit and negligent acts causing others’ death.

His lawyer, Anucha Wongsrisat, said he had confessed to the charges and planned to apply for bail in court. The process will be done by depositing one million baht in cash as surety.

Mr. Anucha also revealed that his client had promised to pay the victims’ relatives 50,000 baht each, in addition to 10,000 baht for each person injured. However, many families complained that they had not been contacted by Mr. Pongsoiri or any other pub representative since the deadly accident.

The business owner’s 31-year-old wife, Anongnart, denied that she or her husband had shied away, saying they had helped revelers after the fire occurred.

Thai senior officials have taken strict measures to deal with unlicensed pubs amid growing safety concerns driven by recent tragic fire incidents.

On Saturday, Bangkok’s governor Chadchart Sittipunt ordered all 50 districts to conduct checks on nightlife venues and asked 83 locations deemed “problematic” to shut down.