Fire razes 'unauthorised' pub

Mishap in City: Safety measures were not in place

Fire razes 'unauthorised' pub

The raging fire at Gold Towers where the NYXs Elite Club pub operated, was reminiscent of the Carlton Tower tragedy in which nine persons lost their lives in February. The police believe that the top-storey structure caught fire when a ‘homa’ ritual was being performed by the builders just behind the pub.

As many as 14 fire tenders and about 100 firemen were pressed into service to douse the flames that engulfed the club around on a hot, sweltering afternoon. Thick plumes of smoke billowed from the pub kitchen as the flames, fanned by the warm breeze, licked upwards.

It is understood that the priests perfoming the ‘homa’ poured ghee into the pit laden with firewood. The inflammable liquid caused the flames to rage all the more, and spread to a bamboo structure. The crackling fire then spread to the cable connected to an air-conditioner and a hoarding whose plastic sheet melted in no time. The entire terrace turned into a blazing orange inferno.

The kitchen and dance floor were charred, leaving behind broken and burnt seats and glass shards across the pub premises. Traffic on Residency Road and its surrounding areas was thrown out of gear, causing snarls and long, serpentine lines of vehicles. Local residents and passersby crowded the area, watching the fire engines and the fire fighters battle the flames for close to two hours before it was put out.

The Fire and Emergency Department, which received the first call at 1:34 pm responded to the fire instantly, but the fire engines had to negotiate heavy traffic on the busy Residency Road. According to department officials, the building owners had not obtained a no-objection certificate. They said they were probing if the four floors were unauthorised.

“We do not have any files pertaining to the Gold Towers. There was no clearance from our side for the construction of the building and the safety standards inside,” Fire and Emergency Department DGP Jija Madhavana Hari Singh said. According to senior officials, the pub was unfit for use and had not installed any fire safety measures.

“It is a matter of luck the fire broke out during lunch hour. There were not many people in the building, otherwise lives would have been lost,” a Fire Department official said.

Recently, the BBMP had prepared a list of pubs running on terraces of high rising buildings, but NYX Club did not figure in it, leading to suspicions that it was operating without authorisation.

BBMP (East) Health Officer Dr Siddappaji said he did not have any information on whether permission was accorded to the club to operate. Other civil officials said the Palike has stopped giving permission to terrace-top hotels and was not renewing licences for such restaurants, pubs or clubs.

“The pubs and clubs operating on terrace tops had been notified that their licences would not be renewed. NYXs Club was one such,” a BBMP health department official said.

The Director of Fire and Emergency Services B G Chengappa said the structure of this pub was apparently in clear violation of fire and emergency services’ guidelines. “Moreover, it is the responsibility of every owner to ensure that fire safety measures are installed in their buildings,” he said.

Was homa the cause?

The fire at the NYXs pub on Residency Road on Monday might well have been caused by a ‘homa’ which was being performed in the premises.  Eye witnesses from neighbouring buildings claimed that the fire indeed started as flames from the homa had not settled down.

According to reliable sources at the spot, around 25 priests from Benares had been invited by the owners of the building to perform the ritual at the terrace adjacent to the pub. While the homa was in progress, the flames engulfed the bamboo setting at the pub.

Sources also claimed that the liquor at the pub aggravated the fire leading to more destruction of property. Speaking to Deccan Herald, one of the priests said he and his colleagues were caught unawares by the fire.

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