At least 13 people have been killed in a fire at a crowded nightclub in the Russian city of Kostroma, officials said Saturday.
Kostroma, 300 km northeast of Moscow on the banks of the Volga River, is a city of about 270,000 inhabitants.
The fire occurred in the early morning hours in Polygon, a multi-purpose recreation room used as a cafe, nightclub and bar. According to rescuers, 250 people were evacuated from the building.
State media quoted investigators as saying the fire started after a man fired a flare indoors and set the ceiling on fire. Police have now arrested a man in connection with the incident, the interior ministry said.
“After firing a torch, decorative elements on the ceiling caught fire and the fire started to spread immediately. Soon the room began to fill with acrid smoke and the evacuation exits were hard to see. There was pushing and panic,” TASS news agency reported, citing a source.
Most of the fire victims were found in the smoking area, utility room and near the toilets, TASS reported, citing emergency services.
“As a result of the fire, 13 people died; the number of dead and injured is being clarified,” the commission said in a statement.
Videos shared by researchers showed firefighters spraying water on what appeared to be the building’s smoldering, collapsed roof. According to rescuers, the fire covered an area of 3,500 square meters.