Phuket, Thailand — A huge fire broke out in Phuket’s SuperCheap store Wednesday night, sending a cloud of black smoke over one kilometer into the air and trapping shoppers and staff inside, said Thai media reports.
The blaze began about 9:40pm when hundreds of shoppers and about 1,000 staff were in the store.
Reports say over 50 firetrucks rushed to the site from all over the island, and some 300 firefighters have yet to control the flames but are focused on containing it and preventing it from spreading.
Witnesses heard cries of help from inside the building, and explosions continued to rock the facility hours after the fire started.
One woman who was shopping inside when the fire broke out said “There was no fire alarm. Everybody just started running for the door”.
Reports say police fear there may be fatalities inside the building.
As of 2am authorities had not given out any information on possible victims. Phuket Vice Governor Sommai Prijasilpa and district mayors were at the scene.
An early report said a short circuit started the fire, which spread to the firecracker section of the store. Another report said gas tanks had been ignited by the short circuit.
One witness who happened to be driving by said, “There were people screaming and trying to leave the area. I saw a lot of ambulances as well from all around the island”.
The huge store is a popular shopping center in Phuket, selling everything imaginable.