Old wiring in decorative light bulbs caused the fire that gutted the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel last month, Yangon East District Police announced on Saturday. The department also said the damage caused by the fire has been valued at more than K37 billion (US$27 million).
The investigation into the cause of the fire was conducted by officials from the Fire Services Department, Police Department, General Administration Department, the Electrical Inspection Sector, and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
The fire, which began in the early hours of Oct.19, killed two foreign guests. One other foreign guest and one firefighter were injured. More than 500 firefighters in over 50 trucks were dispatched to fight the blaze. Of the hotel’s 185 rooms, 140 were destroyed.
The hotel’s night shift manager, Ko Thiha, was charged under sections 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire), 304(a) (Causing death by negligence), and 338 (Causing grievous hurt) of the Myanmar Penal Code. His trial began on Nov. 1.
Guests who escaped the fire said no alarm sounded during the fire, and hotel staff had to knock on doors to awaken and evacuate them.
A patron at the Clubhouse nightclub, which is on the hotel grounds, told Coconuts Yangon that hotel staff ignored reports of a fire 45 minutes before firefighters were eventually called.
The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel was owned and operated by the Htoo Group, which bought the hotel from a Bangkok-based company in 2010 for US$29 million. The Htoo Group is owned by the military-affiliated tycoon Tay Za.