CHIANG RAI – After declining to identify the cause of the fire that killed 17 girls at Pitakkiat Witthaya School dormitory, police provided the light bulb explanation on Friday, the same day national police authorities traveled to Chiang Rai, and a press event was staged at which Chiang Rai Gov. Boonsong Techamaneesathit posed for photos handing over donations to the families of the dead girls.
A police spokesman said a report from regional forensic examiners said the May 22 fire at the Pitakkiat Witthaya School in Chiang Rai started with a light located on the first floor. Spokesman Kritsana Pattanacharoen said investigators still needed more time to deliberate before they could file any charges.
According to police Maj. Gen. Sun Sukwat, who headed the forensic examination, the threading of a light bulb overheated and melted. The light then fell onto clothing belonging to the children which readily fueled the fire.
However on father of one of the victims isnâ€™t buying it, according to Sasiwan Mokkhasen an investigative reporter for Khaosod.
Winai Pisailert, who lost his 11-year-old daughter, in the fire told Sasiwan that â€œThe generosity of people from across the country who donated has been great. But I still doubt about the cause of the fire.â€
He said parents are frustrated by the stalled investigation into the childrens deaths, as well as a lack of accountability by those responsible and the absence of support for what theyâ€™ve been through.
The national engineering association was also skeptical the fire was caused by a melting light bulb unscrewing itself.
Pichaya Chantranuwat from the Council of Engineers who conducted an inspection of the dormitiry with a team of engineers after the fire.
Mr. Chantranuwat said that all other light bulbs in use at the school were up to standards and were installed not long ago. He also stated via his facebook page that none of the children would have died had there been basic, legally mandated safety equipment in the building.
â€œIf they installed smoke alarms, which could detect smoke from fire in the very first minute, all children would have been safe,â€ Pichaya wrote.
All 17 students, hospital examiners concluded, were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning which meant they were already dead when the fire reached their room.