Former Man Met student narrowly escapes death in Thailand holiday resort fire

  • Nine tourists in the blaze in Kho Phi Phi, Thailand
  • Hundreds of people have been left without accommodation after hostel blaze
  • Manchester graduate staying at British Embassy with pals


A former Manchester Metropolitan University student working abroad is lucky to be alive after a Bangkok hostel he was staying in caught on fire and was destroyed.

Patrick O’Donovan, 23, known as Billy to his friends, was on vacation at the tourist hotspot in Thailand known as the Koh Phi Phi Island with his colleagues Daniel Hamlett and Daniel Norman, both 25.

All Billy’s belongings were destroyed in the fire and it was only by chance that he escaped the blaze.

Billy and his dad on graduation day

He said: “We got to the Phi Phi Island in Thailand and checked into the hostel at about 6pm. We ate there, and my friends went out and I stayed in because I felt ill.

“About an hour later I decided I would feel worse if I stayed in, so I went to meet my friends at the beach. About 15-30 minutes later we saw a fire in that direction with locals evacuating to the beach.”

Authorities believe the fire was caused by a cylinder of cooking gas exploding from the October hostel, the same one Billy and his pals was staying in.

He added: “The whole island was filled with gas canisters and they (locals) were genuinely scared the island would blow up like a domino effect.

“It was incredibly scary as I could have been in there but decided to go out, I’m not sure why. Seeing injured locals was a horrifying scene, and it is hard to describe the emotion. I was physically sick that night and still feel anxious now.”

Together with his friends, Billy, who teaches English in China and is a journalism graduate, lost all his belongings in the fire, including passports, laptops, clothes and a significant amount of money.

He said: “We are now in Bangkok waiting for our Chinese visa in our emergency passports and will be here until next week, when hopefully we can all fly back to China where we work as teachers.

“We left Phi Phi with the clothes on our back and a vest that I was given by a shop owner who heard I had no clothes.”

Billy and his friends were taken to the British Embassy in Bangkok following the fire to get new visas and emergency passports.

Billy and his friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of this fatal accident, you can donate here.