Building collapse caused by a fire

In the early morning of 3 April 2021, a fire broke out in a three-storey building on the outskirts of the Thai capital Bangkok. While fire­fight­ers were working to ex­tin­guish the fire and rescue the residents, the building collapsed, bury­ing several rescue workers and residents underneath.

As part of the USAR team of the gov­ern­ment unit “De­part­ment of Disaster Pre­ven­tion & Mitigation” (DDPM), the IRO mem­ber organi­sation Thai-RDA was re­quested to support the search operation. Upon arrival at the scene, the fire was still underway and lots of toxic smoke and fumes engulfed one side of the building. The search and rescue dogs Sierra, Sahara and Canine were im­medi­ate­ly aware of their task and could hardly keep their paws still. But the search and rescue dog teams had to standby until the heat subsided and wait for the en­gi­neer’s clear­ance to enter the collapsed struc­tures.

After about four hours the teams were fi­nal­ly able to start with the search under a propped-up roof. One by one, the dogs were sent to the place where victims were sus­pected, but none of the dogs in­di­cated the presence of missing persons there. The search was ex­treme­ly difficult for the dogs. Sue Redmond, member of Thai-RDA, told us: “The biggest challenge was the ground sur­face heat for the dogs to en­dure.” She fur­ther explains: “All of our three deployed search and rescue dogs wore boots to help protect their paws from the heat. However, these were also a hindrance when the dogs climbed the lad­ders to enter the structure as they had no grip, and with boots on the rooftop it was quite slippery too.”

The search for survivors was concluded after seven hours and re­cov­ery operations com­menced. Several residents were in­jured in the trag­ic incident but could be rescued by the emergency services. Five other peo­ple, in­cluding the homeowner and four fire­fight­ers, unfortunately lost their lives.

We are proud of our search and rescue dog teams and ap­pre­ci­ate their dedi­cation, hard work, and determi­nation to save lives.

Photos: Thai-RDA