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.
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.