Russia arrests suspect linked to deadly bar fire in Kostroma
At least 15 people were killed in a fire after a flare went off, engulfing more than 3,500 square meters.
Russian police have arrested a man suspected of starting a massive fire overnight at a bar in the historic town of Kostroma that killed at least 15 people.
Firefighters fought until early Saturday morning to put out the blaze at the city’s famous Poligon bar, about 300 kilometers northeast of Moscow.
Russian agencies reported that the fire could have started after a drunken man fired a “flare gun” at the dance floor.
“Police have identified and arrested the suspect (originally) of illegal acts in an entertainment establishment in the city of Kostroma, which caused a fire and the death of people,” Russian police said.
“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”.
He posted footage from inside the burnt-out building, showing a barely recognizable bar. The bar had a collapsed roof and burnt walls, with near total destruction inside.
State television broadcast nighttime footage of the bar – housed in a single-storey logistics center – engulfed in flames.
Authorities said the fire started around 23:00 GMT (02:00 local time) on Saturday and was extinguished around 07:30 local time.
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About 250 people were evacuated from the building when it caught fire, authorities said earlier.
TASS news agency, citing emergency service sources, said a drunken man with a “flare flare” was likely to have started the blaze.
“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.”
Emergency services said the fire had engulfed more than 3,500 square meters.
Some local media, citing witnesses, said there was panic when the fire broke out as people rushed to an exit, causing a traffic jam. A man forced a closed door, possibly saving lives, according to reports.
The RIA Novosti news agency said the bar was owned by a local lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, Ikhtiyar Mirzoyev. He told the agency he would “provide all necessary assistance to the families and loved ones of the dead”.
A firefighter told state television 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 famous for its medieval architecture and monasteries.
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