Hotel catches fire in Thai resort, 400 safely evacuated

Police in Thailand's popular seaside resort of Pattaya say about 400 guests and staff were safely evacuated from a hotel whose facade caught fire in the middle of the night

BANGKOK -- About 400 guests and staff were safely evacuated from a hotel in Thailand's popular seaside resort of Pattaya whose facade caught fire before dawn Friday, police said.

Police Capt. Sakda Poonya said the blaze at the Holiday Inn Express caused no injuries or deaths.

He said an initial investigation found that a short circuit sparked the fire, which began in an area overhanging the hotel's entrance and spread along cables to the third floor and then to several higher floors. Three firetrucks took about half an hour to put out the blaze.

A hotel staffer who declined to give her name said by phone there was no major damage and guests were later allowed back into their rooms. A daytime photo of the hotel appeared to show that most of the damage was external, with siding and some windows burnt.

The hotel, with 241 rooms, opened in August this year.

In 1997, more than 90 people were killed in Pattaya in one of Thailand's worst hotel fires, Authorities blamed the management of the 17-story, 450-room Royal Jomtien Resort Hotel for neglecting fire safety measures.

That blaze drew calls for stricter safety regulations. Antiquated laws had left fines for violations so low that owners would pay them daily rather than correct problems.