Russia arrests suspect in deadly bar fire
Moscow (AFP) – Russian police on Saturday arrested a man suspected of starting a massive fire overnight at a bar in the town of Kostroma that killed at least 15 people.
Firefighters fought until early morning to put out the blaze at the city’s famous Poligon bar, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) northeast of Moscow.
Russian agencies earlier reported that the fire may have started after a drunken man fired a “flare gun” at the dance floor.
“Police have identified and arrested the suspect (behind) illegal acts at an entertainment establishment in the city of Kostroma, which caused a fire and the death of people,” Russian police said in a statement.
“He has now been handed over to the investigating authorities,” he added, without giving further details.
The Russian investigative commission has opened a criminal case for “causing death by negligence”.
State television showed footage of the bar, housed in a single-storey logistics center, engulfed in flames.
Authorities said the fire started around 2 a.m. local time and was extinguished around 7:30 a.m.
Governor Sergei Sitnikov said earlier that 13 people had been killed, but emergency services later said the remains of two more people had been found.
“Two more bodies have been found. This means that the number of victims is now 15,” TASS news agency quoted police sources as saying.
About 250 people were evacuated from the building when it caught fire, authorities said earlier.
Flare gun on the dance floor
TASS news agency, citing emergency service sources, said a drunken man with a “flare” was likely to have started the fire.
“He was spending time in the bar with a woman, ordered her flowers, with a flare gun in his hands,” the source told the agency.
“Then he went to the dance floor and he shot.”
Local emergency services said the fire had spread over 3,500 square meters.
On its website, Poligon indicates that it is a nocturnal and nocturnal “place of leisure and entertainment”.
By day, it’s a typical Russian “stolovaya” – a casual restaurant serving traditional cuisine.
He says he is housed in a “distribution center” and is popular with traffic police.
State television showed footage of dozens of rescuers battling the inferno that had engulfed the building.
The “Poligon” sign was visible amid the flames raging on its roof.
A firefighter told regional state television that it took 50 people to put out the blaze and they used 20 fire engines.
He said the fire was particularly difficult to put out due to the risk of the building collapsing.
Kostroma, a city on the Volga with about 230,000 inhabitants, is one of the oldest cities in Russia and is famous for its medieval architecture and monasteries.
Russia, where safety regulations are often lax, has seen a number of deadly fires at entertainment venues in recent years.
In 2018, a huge fire killed 60 people in a shopping center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo.
In 2009, another fire at a nightclub in the city of Perm, in the Urals, killed 156 people.
© 2022 AFP