BANGKOK — A shophouse went up in flames Thursday in Chinatown just as the community there was gearing up to celebrate Chinese New Year.
The fire broke out at a shop selling “hell money” – piles of mock banknotes and gold and silver colored papers – on Texas Alley before it spread to a nearby building. After an hour of struggling to control the flames in the narrow and crowded alley, firefighters extinguished the blaze at about 11am.
Police have yet to determine the cause of the incident. Building owner Naruemon Pathamwattanakul told reporters she was away when the fire started. No injury is reported.
The incident came just two weeks after City Hall officials campaigned in Chinatown to raise awareness about fires during the Chinese New Year season, when papers and lit incense is widely used throughout the community.
Due to the capital’s ongoing pollution problem, the government also requested Sino-Thais to refrain from lighting incense and hell money during the celebration.