Naked bathers had to flee a fire that had started in a neighboring apartment and spread to the bathhouse. “Punters had no time to dress when the fire spread to the bathhouse from a neighbouring building. … ‘There was no time to get my clothes. I just ran for my life’,” said one of the bathhouse customers according to a March 21, 2013, Mail Online report.
Some of the guests tried to cover themselves the best as possible as the fire ripped rapidly through the bathhouse in Leqing, in east China. One person was killed and six people were injured during the fire.
A fireman working for the city of Leqing said that the fire began in an apartment kitchen. The apartment’s gas pipe was fractured which resulted in an explosion.
The fire spread so quickly through the apartment and to the bathhouse that it was fortunate that not more people were injured or killed, explained the fireman.
The word “punter” can have different meanings depending on where in the world the word “punter” is being used. From a speculator in the stock market, to a gambler, to a beginning skier, to a boat user, to a football player, to a voting citizen in Australia, to a paying customer in a not-so-reputable profession, to a paying guest of an establishment, -- all can be called a “punter.”
In the case of the naked bathers fleeing the fire in China, punters were paying guests in an establishment such as the bathhouse.
Bathhouses in China, as they are in many other parts of the world, are a place to relax, to rejuvenate, and to cleanse the body and the mind.
Some bathhouses are located in multistory buildings and consist of several pools, several tubs, sauna rooms, massage rooms, and whirlpools. Depending on the establishment, the water temperature ranges in different pools from icy to extreme hot in order to improve blood circulation. In Iceland, people simply jump from natural hot springs into the surrounding snow in order to achieve the same effect. In Europe, some bathhouses or spas also include a bar where, in the nude, one can also refresh with a hot or cold drink or a meal while sitting at a bar. Some bathhouses offer unisex or mixed sex bathhouse environments.
Depending on a person’s tolerance to temperatures, some people can spend hours in a bathhouse relaxing and rejuvenating.
But not if an explosion occurs next door and the bathhouse is on fire.
“One minute I was soaking in the tub, the next I could smell smoke and hear screams,” described one customer the unrelenting fire that forced the naked bathers to flee with “No time to dress.”