5 workers killed as fire breaks out in Bengaluru bar

Victim spoke over phone minutes before dying

5 workers killed as fire breaks out in Bengaluru bar

Five employees of a dingy bar were killed in a fire that broke out in the  early hours on Monday.

Prasad (20), Rangaswamy (23) from Gubbi, Mahesh (35), from Channarayapatna, Manjunath (45) from Hassan, and Keerthi (24) from Mandya choked to death at Kailash Bar and Restaurant in Kalasipalyam.

The bar is on the ground floor of the three-storey Kumbaara Sangha building.

Bar cashier Ramachandra received an alert around 2.45 am from Nagappa, who lives in a building adjoining the bar.

 

 


Ramachandra then called Prasad, one of those sleeping inside the bar, to ask what had happened.

"Prasad was crying and said the bar was engulfed by smoke. He spoke for three minutes and then cut the call," he told DH.

Ramachandra tried calling Prasad a few minutes later but got no response. He informed the fire service and rushed to the spot, but it was too late.

No ventilation

Two fire tenders and a fire rescue vehicle reached the spot only around 4 am.

The fire force had a tough time opening the metal shutter as it was hot. The workers had died by the time rescue staff gained entry.

Four bodies were found near the toilet on the first floor, while the fifth was on the ground floor.

Mahesh, found near the bar counter near the shutter, had burn wounds on his hands.

The others were found near the toilet, accessed by a flight of metal stairs from the ground floor.

All five died of asphyxiation, the police suspect. The post-mortem was conducted at Victoria Hospital and the reports are awaited.

Criminal negligence

Kalasipalyam police have registered a case of criminal negligence and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

"We have booked the bar owner and licence holder. We are checking if the bar was sublet and will fix culpability," said city police commissioner T Suneel Kumar.

He has ordered an inquiry and expects a report within four days.

The building is 70 years old, and the Class 9 excise licence holder has been identified as V R Dayashankar, whom the police learnt was a paralytic.

The bar was run by his brother Prakash and Somashekar, who holds stakes in the business.

Locked inside?

The five employees were locked inside the bar by the cashier, who retained the keys, families of the fire victims told DH.

The employees had no way to open the shutter and run to safety, they lamented.

Ramachandra, the cashier, told the police the workers had a set of keys, but couldn't explain why they had not been able to open the shutter and escape to safety.

What caused the fire?

Among the devices inside were a fridge, digital video recorder connected to CCTV cameras, and a UPS with batteries.

The police suspect the fire was caused by a short circuit.

The Electrical Inspectorate and experts from the Forensic Science Laboratory will investigate the cause of the fire, police said.

Room infested

 

For about a week, the five employees had been retiring at night at the bar as their room on the second floor was infested with bedbugs and rats.
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