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Chiang Mai police arrest British tourist accused of starting fire in hotel room

PHOTO: MGR Online

A British tourist is in police custody in Chiang Mai, after allegedly starting a fire at his hotel. Nation Thailand reports that the 27 year old man was arrested in the early hours of Thursday morning and is accused of starting Wednesday night’s fire at the Y Smart Hotel on Kaew Navarat Road, in the Mueang district.

According to the report, firefighters at Chiang Mai fire station were notified of the fire at around 11pm and raced to the hotel. It took around half an hour to extinguish the blaze and rescue 6 Thai and foreign hotel guests, who were stuck on a third floor balcony.

A tourist steps out on a balcony to escape the smoke. PHOTO: KomChadLuek

Later that night, at around 2.00am, police were notified that a foreigner was shouting loudly and creating a disturbance at a noodle shop on Ratanoskin Road, in the same general area. The unnamed man was taken into custody to calm down and police were subsequently informed by hotel staff that this was the same person who had allegedly started a fire at the property.

CCTV footage from the hotel shows the man running around and shouting, before disappearing. After checking the scene of the fire, police and firefighters have confirmed the blaze started in Room 203, which is where the man was staying.

Nation Thailand reports that a receptionist who works at the hotel told police the man checked in alone at around 12.00 noon on Wednesday. At around 10.00pm, the receptionist, named only as Sahasawas, says the man returned to the front desk and began shouting and threatening to harm Sahasawas. The receptionist says he left the front desk and stepped into the back office to avoid the aggressive Briton.

Sahasawas goes on to say he subsequently smelt smoke at around 11.00pm and on inspection, found smoke coming from Room 203. A number of hotel guests who were temporarily stranded in their rooms say they had smelt fumes and when they exited their rooms, found the hallway filled with smoke. Unable to see the fire exit, they climbed onto a balcony and waited to be rescued.

Meanwhile, the hotel says they are sure the fire was an act of arson and not something started by an electrical short circuit, given that the property has a safety braking system in place.

The hotel manager says the fire has caused significant damage and repairs will take around 7 days. He estimates the damage at between 200,000 and 300,000 baht, which doesn’t include the cost of lost revenue while repairs are being carried out.

Police have declined to name the British tourist, saying they have yet to interrogate him about the incident and his motive in starting the fire.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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