Jan. 21 (UPI) — A fire at a nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, injured 41 people and police are investigating whether the club was up to fire code.
The fire completely razed the multi-story Bamboo nightclub, which was packed with hundreds of patrons Saturday night when the fire broke out. Witnesses said patrons on upper floors were seen jumping off balconies to escape the smoke and flames.
One person suffered serious injuries and remained in critical condition at a local hospital. Others were treated for smoke inhalation and hypothermia after running outside without coats into a frigid night where temperatures had plunged into the single digits.
Police said they attempted to interview the club’s owner, but he became ill and required medical attention. Romania Insider reported the club, while a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, was operating without a license and had previously been fined by the city.
Witnesses said patrons were permitted to smoke inside the club on upper floors and bartenders were serving drinks with sparklers. Romanian law prohibits both indoor smoking and indoor pyrotechnics.
The incident brought reminders of a similar nightclub fire in 2015 that killed 64 people in Romania. That nightclub did have an operating permit, but had not been subject to fire safety inspections and when pyrotechnics from a rock concert sparked a fire, investigators said patrons became trapped due to the lack of proper fire exits.
That incident sparked mass public protests against inept and corrupt government officials who were blamed for failing to safeguard the public.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis posted a statement on Facebook, blaming the nightclub owners for failing to follow the law, putting patrons’ safety in jeopardy.
“Fortunately, nobody lost his live in the Bucharest club fire. However, we have been very close to another big tragedy. Rules and laws have apparently been broken again,” Iohannis said. “Until we … understand once and for all that all must respect the law, society will always be in danger.”