British tourist arrested for allegedly setting fire to Chiang Mai hotel


A British tourist was arrested in Chiang Mai early on Thursday, a few hours after he allegedly set fire to a hotel near the Chiang Mai bus terminal in Muang district late on Wednesday night.

Police said the Chiang Mai fire station was alerted to the blaze at the hotel on Kaew Navarat Road in Tambon Wat Ked at around 11pm. Firefighters rushed to the scene and put out the blaze in about half an hour.

Six Thai and foreign hotel guests, who were stranded on a balcony of the third floor, were rescued and escorted out to safety by firefighters.

At 2am, Mae Ping Police Station was alerted that a foreigner was causing a disturbance and shouting loudly at a noodle shop on Ratanoskin Road in Tambon Wat Ked. British tourist arrested for allegedly setting fire to Chiang Mai hotel

Police took the Briton into custody to calm him down. Police were informed by the hotel officials that he was the guest who had allegedly set fire to his room on the second floor of the hotel.

Police declined to identify the Briton and said he had yet to be interrogated about his motive.

Feeds from security cameras of the hotel showed the man running around shouting inside the hotel before he ran out and disappeared. British tourist arrested for allegedly setting fire to Chiang Mai hotel

Police and firefighters checked the fire scene and found that the blaze started from Room 203 where the 27-year-old Briton stayed.

A receptionist, Sahasawas, 23, told police that the Briton checked in alone at noon on Wednesday. At 10pm, the Briton came to the front desk and shouted at the receptionist and threatened to harm Sahasawas, so he stepped into the office to avoid the Briton.

The receptionist said he smelt smoke at 11pm and when he checked, he found smoke coming out of Room 203.

Six hotel guests, who were stranded in their rooms and later rescued, said they smelt fumes. When they came out of their rooms, they found the hallway filled with smoke. They could not see the exit so they decided to climb onto the balcony to wait for help.

The hotel manager told police that the fire was definitely an act of arson because the room has a safety braking system to prevent short circuit.

The manager said the hotel had suffered severe damage and it would take about seven days for repairs. He estimated the damage at about 200,000 to 300,000 baht, not counting the value of losing guests during the repair period.