Bengaluru Fire: 5 Staff Sleeping Inside Bar Dead, Owner Arrested
The fire broke out around 2.30 am in Kailash bar and restaurant, located in the ground of Kumbaara Sanga Building in KR Market, West Bengaluru.
The fire broke out around 2.30 am in Kailash bar and restaurant, located in the ground of Kumbaara Sanga Building in KR Market, West Bengaluru.(Photo: The Quint)

Bengaluru Fire: 5 Staff Sleeping Inside Bar Dead, Owner Arrested

Days after a blaze in Mumbai’s Kamala Mills compound claimed 14 lives, five employees of a bar and restaurant were charred to death in a fire mishap on 8 January, in West Bengaluru. The fire broke out around 2:30 am in Kailash bar and restaurant, located in the ground floor of Kumbaara Sanga Building in KR Market area.

MN Anuchet, deputy commissioner of police, Bengaluru West said that the employees were sleeping inside the bar, when the fire broke out and were trapped inside as the fire spread. The deceased have been identified as Swami, 23, Prasad, 20, Manjunath, 45, Keerthi, 24 and Mahesh, 35. Victims are natives of Tumakuru, Hassan and Mandya.

An official at the fire control room said they received a call about the fire at 3:10 am and two fire tenders were rushed to the spot. According to the fire department, it took more than three hours of firefighting to douse the flames completely.

Three Bodies Found in Bathroom, 2 Near the Counter

Police said that the bar shut down at 1 am and the employees, who were not provided any accommodation by the owner, slept in the bar premises.

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City police commissioner T Suneel Kumar said rescue personnel found three bodies in the bathroom of the bar. These three men are suspected to have died due to asphyxiation. While the other two bodies were recovered were found close to the entrance of the bar and they had severe burn marks on their body.

Suneel Kumar added that three reports are awaited – report by the Forensic Laboratory, a report by the Karnataka State Electrical Inspectorate and report by the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Department.

‘They Stayed Inside to Sell Booze After Hours’

Bengaluru Police has arrested VR Prakash, the owner of the bar and Somashekar, the manager of the bar. Dayashankar, the licence holder of the bar and owners of the building are currently absconding.

A case has been registered under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against all four of them. T Suneel Kumar, Bengaluru Police Commissioner, said that preliminary investigations suggested that the reason they were in the bar was so that they could sell alcohol.

Bengaluru mayor Sampath Raj said that the owner had violated labour laws. “All five victims were staying inside the bar which violates labour laws. If there is a situation where the staff is unable to afford accommodation, then the owner of the establishment should ensure that the staff are accommodated elsewhere,” he said

Eyewitness Heard Screams But Couldn’t Help

Selva Kumar, a key eyewitness who made the first call to the fire control room told The Quint that he spotted smoke emanating from the bar around 2.30am. He said:

I was on my way to open the shop, located two streets away from the bar, when we spotted the smoke. As we got closer we could hear screams, but we were not able to get closer to the shutter because of the flames. So we had no option but to call the fire department and wait.

Kumar also added that the owner of the bar Dayashankar also came to the spot some time later, and was unable to get inside. “It was only after the fire department doused the fire that anyone could enter, but by then the boys were dead,” he said.

Fire Dept to Scale Up Inspections

Although a short circuit is suspected to have started the fire, senior police officers said that an investigation has been initiated to determine what caused the fire. The officer also added that a case will be registered following the probe.

This fire mishap comes on the close heels of the Karnataka Fire and Emergency Department’s crackdown on buildings violating fire safety norms. More than 70 buildings have been issued notices for failing to implement fire safety norms.

“Our inspections are currently on the high-rise buildings in Bengaluru. The inspections will continue in the coming and more violators will be issued notices,” said a senior fire department official.

(With inputs from The News Minute)

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