Kader Toy Factory Fire

The Kader Toy Factory fire was a fire on 10 May 1993 at a factory in Thailand. It is considered the worst industrial factory fire in history. 188 people were killed, and over 500 were seriously injured. Most of the victims were young female workers from rural families. More people were killed than in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; despite this, the incident received little media attention outside Thailand. The factory was owned by the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, a Thai transnational corporation and one of Asia's largest agribusiness firms.


The Kader toy factory, which manufactured stuffed toys and licensed plastic dolls primarily intended for export to the United States and other developed countries. The toys were produced for Disney, Mattel and others. The Factory is located in the Sam Phran District of Nakhon Pathom Province. The structures that were destroyed in the blaze were all owned and operated directly by Kader, which owns the site. Kader has two sister companies that also operate at the location on a lease arrangement.

The factory was poorly designed and built. Fire exits on the plans were not put in place, and external doors were locked. Furthermore, the building was reinforced with un-insulated steel girders which quickly weakened and collapsed.

At about 4pm on May 10th, 1993, a small fire was discovered on the first floor of part of the E-shaped building. Workers were instructed to keep working as the fire was thought to be minor. The fire alarm in this building did not sound.

This part of the building was dedicated to the storage of finished products and the fire spread quickly. Other parts of the factory were full of raw materials which also burned very fast.

Workers in the first building who tried to escape found the ground floor exit doors locked, and the stairwells soon collapsed. Many workers jumped from the second, third and fourth floor windows in order to escape the flames, resulting in severe injuries or death.

Fire-fighters arrived at the factory at about 4:40pm, to find Building One about to collapse.

Fire alarms in buildings two and three had sounded and all the workers were able to escape.


Most victims were taken by ambulance to the Sriwichai II Hospital, where 20 of them died. When the northern stairwell of the collapsed building was searched, the bodies of many others were found. These victims died of smoke inhalation, the flames, or the ultimate collapse of the building.

The Kader fire has created a great deal of interest about the country's fire safety measures, particularly its building code design requirements and enforcement policies. Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, who travelled to the scene on the evening of the fire, has pledged that the government will address fire safety issues. According to the Wall Street Journal (1993), Leekpai has called for tough action against those who violate the safety laws. Thai Industry Minister Sanan Kachornprasart is quoted as saying that “Those factories without fire prevention systems will be ordered to install one, or we will shut them down”.

The Wall Street Journal goes on to state that labour leaders, safety experts and officials say that the Kader fire may help tighten building codes and safety regulations, but they fear that lasting progress is still far off as employers flout rules and governments allow economic growth to take priority over worker safety.

Media references

New Zealand singer-songwriter Don McGlashan released a song about the disaster, Toy Factory Fire, on his 2006 album Warm Hand. The song is narrated from the imagined perspective of a New York-based toy company executive who, in the week of the 10th anniversary of the fire, is looking at a number of photographs of the disaster's aftermath. "Here's Bart Simpson with his arms all melted and twisted," he begins. And later: "They said it was a death trap from a text book... Keeping [these photos] hidden was the best work I ever did."


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