SAITAMA (TR) – A fire at a soapland bathhouse in Saitama City that killed four persons and left another eight injured over the weekend began in a garbage area, police and fire officials said on Monday, reports TBS News (Dec. 18).
At around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, the fire broke out inside bathhouse Kawaii Omiya, located inside a three-floor building about 300 meters from JR Omiya Station.
According to the officials, the fire engulfed the second and third floors before it was extinguished by personnel from twenty fire trucks over a roughly five-hour period. The blaze started in a garbage collection area on the second floor. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
A person who has been inside the building told TBS News, “The stairs are narrow, the windows are closed and you can’t see outside.”
Modifications not made
According to Sports Hochi (Dec. 18), Kawaii Omiya has 90 women registered on its books. The 195-square-meter building, constructed in the 1960s, includes a waiting room for customers on the third floor. Female staff members serve customers on the first and second floors.
In June of last year, the Saitama City Fire Department conducted an onsite inspection and advised that evacuation routes be improved. The soapland subsequently claimed that modifications were made. However, there was no external staircase for a door on the second floor, which is considered to be an emergency exit.
On Tuesday morning, police and fire personnel visited other similar businesses in the area to carry out inspections regarding adherence to fire codes.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
The twelve victims are customers and employees of Kawaii Omiya. Among those confirmed dead are two women in their 20s and a man in his 40s or 50s. The burned body of man was found on the third floor of the building.
The results of autopsies revealed that the man and one of the women died due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The second woman died from burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.
One of the eight persons injured is in critical condition, while the other seven have minor injuries.
Police are working to confirm the identities of the deceased.