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Great ball of fire!

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Great ball of fire! | Thaiger

KOH SIREH: When firefighters responded to a call from the 100-year-old Muslim community on Koh Sireh at about 4:30 on the morning of May 24, little did they know that they were about to witness a gaseous and ghostly apparition. It took city and provincial firefighting units about 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze at 12/24 Soi Si Sena and keep it from spreading to other units in the long row of partially-wooden, two-story shophouses. Nevertheless, three shophouses reported damages estimated at a total of 2 million baht. But that is only half the story. It was also reported that during the blaze firefighters were shocked to see a large fireball about one meter in diameter rise from the flames and hover above them momentarily. And this was no ordinary fireball. In it could clearly be discerned the image of an old Muslim lady, recognizable as such because her weathered face and prominent nose were partially covered in a traditional Muslim headscarf. A number of journalists from different newspapers picked up their cameras and tried to photograph the apparition, but only the reporter from the Daily News managed to get off a single frame before the fireball disappeared, evaporating into thin air and smoke just as mysteriously as it had appeared. The image, which appeared in the May 25 edition of the newspaper, definitely resembled a fireball. But whether or not it was in the image of a Muslim lady is a matter of debate. Some firefighters suggested the fireball may simply have been a ball of unspecified hot gas, but many residents of the predominantly Muslim community are convinced that the specter was that of the community’s ancestral guardian spirit rising up to protect the current residents against the spread of the fire. Yam Janjit, the Muslim owner of a used goods shop where the fire started, saw the blaze break out as she was getting up to perform her pre-dawn prayers. Seeing how quickly the fire was spreading among the piles of used paper and other scrap, she fled for her life. She said she suspected a faulty switch was the source of the blaze.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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