At least 13 people died and five others were injured during an overnight fire at a nightclub in the western Russian city of Kostroma, local authorities said Saturday.
Investigators are reviewing whether the fire at the Poligon – a multipurpose venue used as a nightclub, café, and bar – could have started after a drunk man fired a flare gun on the dance floor, the TASS news agency reported.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported a brawl erupted in the cafe shortly before the fire, but it wasn’t immediately clear if it had anything to do with the use of a flare gun.
Rescuers said 250 people were evacuated from the building. The blaze erupted about 2 a.m. and took about five-and-a-half hours to extinguish, authorities said.
During the fire, the nightclub’s roof collapsed, engulfing an area of more than 37,000 square feet. A dozen residents of nearby residential buildings were evacuated as a precaution.
Most of the people killed in the fire were found in the nightclub’s smoking room, utility room and near the bathrooms, TASS reported.
Russian news agency Interfax cited local emergency officials as saying the death toll was 15. The contradicting numbers couldn’t be immediately reconciled.
A criminal investigation has been launched, and the police have arrested a suspect, the Associated Press reported.
Ikhtiyar Mirzoyev, a member of the regional legislature and the Poligon’s owner, reportedly promised assistance to those affected by the fire.
Kostroma, a riverside city of 270,000, is located roughly 210 miles north of Moscow.
With Post wires.