Warehouse fire uncovers homemade alcohol operation

PHOTO: Homemade alcohol was found after a fire destroyed a Pattaya warehouse. (via Pattaya News)

A Pattaya warehouse containing homemade alcohol went up in flames early this morning, according to local reports. Firefighters and police arrived at the warehouse, located in the Pong sub-district of Bang Lamung district, following a report about a fire at 1am yesterday.

The warehouse caught fire in an electrical glitch that the caretaker said was caused by an electric kettle that was left plugged in. Fortunately, no injuries were reported in the fire.

Once firefighters arrived on the scene, it took approximately an hour to put out the blaze. The property was used mainly for the storage of agricultural products. But during the search of the warehouse, police discovered shattered bottles of what they believed to be homemade alcohol.

Until recently, brewing alcohol at home was completely illegal in Thailand. But, a new regulation introduced just a few months ago was enacatd last year. The new rules permit individuals or legal entities to apply for a homebrewing license, as long as the applicants are at least 20 years old.

The “Progressive Liquor Act” amended Section 153 of the Excise Tax Act which requires alcohol producers to obtain permits under strict and costly standards set by the Ministry of Finance. The amendment lowered the existing standards which makes room for small breweries to enter the market.

This license allows people to produce up to 200 liters of alcohol annually, but only for home use, not for non-commercial purposes. It is still not legal to sell homemade alcohol under Thai law.

After the blaze was contained, a 70 year old man admitted to his police that he and his friends had used the warehouse to brew their own alcohol. It is unclear whether he held the proper license to homebrew, or if he had been selling the moonshine.

Authorities are now running a double investigating as they look into the full cause of the fire while also checking into the possibly illegal homebrewing operation going on in the warehouse.

Pattaya News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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