Karaoke bar fire investigation reveals owners knew of short circuit risk

September 13, 2022 - 14:43
Local police noted in April 2022 the risk of an electrical short circuit due to the karaoke bar's high electricity consumption and ordered it be remedied. However, the karaoke bar failed to implement the order.
Local police inspects fire-fighting equipment at a karaoke bar in the southern province of Bình Dương last Saturday. —VNA/VNS Photo Chí Tưởng

HÀ NỘI — A joint investigation into the An Phú karaoke bar fire has revealed that the owners had been made aware of the risk of an electrical short circuit as recently as April 2022, but failed to act. 

Initial investigations suggested that an electrical short circuit on the second floor of the karaoke bar started the fire.

The Police Department of Bình Dương is working with the Ministry of Public Security to investigate the cause of the fire at An Phú karaoke bar last Tuesday which killed 33 people.

The An Phú karaoke bar, located at An Phú Ward, Thuận An City, Bình Dương Province, was a 30-room karaoke service built on an area of 500 square metres. It opened six years ago and has been inspected for fire safety three times, in 2019, 2021 and 2022. It passed every time.

However, in the most recent inspection in April 2022, the authorities noted the risk of an electrical short circuit due to the karaoke bar's high electricity consumption and ordered it be remedied.

However, the karaoke bar failed to implement the order.

Võ Văn Minh, chairman of the provincial People's Committee, said on Tuesday that the local administration shares the loss with the victims' families.

The locality has provided VNĐ97 million (US$4,100) to each dead victim's family and two seriously-injured victims, he said.

Minh also said local police were informed about the fire at the karaoke bar at 8:40 pm last Tuesday.  

About five minutes later, a local government representative arrived at the scene. Police and fire-fighting units arrived about 12 minutes later.

The fire was extinguished at about 9:30 pm, he said.

The scope of the fire was small, and the length of time it took to put it out was short, but the consequences were great, he added.

Due to the karaoke bar being shaped like a 'tube', toxic smoke quickly filled the air, causing great damage to people, he said.

After the fire, the province directed relevant units to hold a press conference to provide complete, accurate and clear information to the media. In addition, local police have begun an investigation to clarify the responsibility of organisations and individuals in the case.

At the same time, local authorities are checking all karaoke establishments in the province. As of Monday morning, local police forces have fined 118 karaoke establishments and suspended the operation of 24 establishments for violating regulations, he said.

Minh said after the fire, the locality learned many lessons. Firstly, for rescue work, the top commander at the scene must perform well in commanding and operating the forces to promote the effectiveness of rescue work. 

Secondly, he said that for fires at karaoke establishments built in with this 'tube' design, which enables flammable materials and toxic gases, walls must be quickly demolished to release toxic gases and save victims.

Although the ministry of public security and local administrations have invested in fire-fighting equipment, drilling concrete walls took nearly an hour. 

Therefore, Minh submitted to the ministry of public security to arrange more resources for rescue, especially specialised equipment for drilling concrete in the shortest time. For example, specialised equipment for drilling and cutting concrete within three minutes.

He also proposed that Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính continue paying attention to direct relevant ministries and sectors to review standards and criteria on fire prevention and fighting for business establishments, especially for establishments such as karaoke and discos, he said. — VNS