(G.N.S) Dt. 09
Four staffers and a former employee were killed in a fire that broke out at a bar and restaurant where they were employed in the early hours of Monday. The five men were asleep at Kailash Bar and Restaurant, located on the ground floor of the four-storey Kumbaara Sangha building in Kalasipalya, near KR Market, when the fire broke out.
Although accommodation had been provided for the employees on the second floor, it was infested with bedbugs and the five had chosen to sleep in the bar. The dead have been identified as Rangaswamy alias Kariyanna, 23, from Gubbi in Tumakuru district; Prasad Pandaiah, 20, from Tumakuru; Manjunath Gowda, 45, from Hirisave in Hassan district; Keerti Kumar, 24, from Mandya; and Mahesh Mahalingegowda, 35, from Tumakuru.
Fire brigade officials said the smoke turned the bar into a gas chamber and the men had appeared to have made attempts to locate the keys and open the rolling shutter door of the bar. Of the five, police said three suffocated to death. The other two — Mahesh and Keerti — had burns and the cause of death will be known after the autopsy.
It was not clear when the fire, suspected by firemen to be the result of a short circuit, broke out. Security guards of a building nearby noticed the fire and alerted police on night patrol around 3.05am. By 3.10am, two fire tenders and a water bowser with 20 personnel were at the spot.
The fire fed on plastic bottles & boxes, say police
The fire was brought under control within an hour, but the scale of the tragedy came to light only later since the building had not suffered any serious damage. Also, there was none from the bar management around to alert the firemen and police of the presence of the men either. Firemen had the shock of their lives when they came upon the bodies. “Many of us have been in this business for more than two-and-a-half decades and have seen several fire tragedies, but this was horrible,” one fireman told
“Five bodies lay scattered inside the charred remains of the bar. One body was near the shutter, indicating that he had died while attempting to open the door. Two were found near the toilet, another near the cash counter and the fifth in a corner.”
Police suspect the fire may have caused the power supply to shut off, leaving the five men groping in the dark. “There was more smoke than fire,” another fireman said. “A handful of tables were undamaged and only two of the men had sustained burns. It appears the flames fed on stacked boxes and plastic bottles and that gave off a lot of smoke.”
The firemen pointed to palm prints over the soot on and near the light switches as evidence of the struggle of the men. “The switches were on,” a fireman said.
Police identified the owner of the bar as VR Dayashankar, 58, a resident of Rajajinagar. Dayashankar suffers from health issues, west division police said. VR Prakash, 60, brother and partner of Dayashankar, and manager, Somashekar Shantabasappa, 59, were arrested later in the evening. Kalasipalya police have booked a case under IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), which prescribes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, against Dayashankar, Prakash, Somashekar and Kumbarara Sangha, the building owner.
(G.N.S) Dt. 09