Romania’s interior ministry has checked more than 160 clubs, handing out around $48,000 in fines, in the aftermath of the Jan. 21 Bamboo club fire that left 44 people hospitalized.
AP Photo – Bamboo Firefighters
“The authorities checked 162 clubs on Saturday night, giving a total of 118 fines with a total value of RON 203,000 for ‘failure to comply with fire protection regulations,’ according to a statement from the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (IGSU),” Romania-Insider.com writes.
News reports claim that Bamboo, one of Bucharest’s most famous clubs, lacked an operating license and fire safety permit when it burned to the ground early Jan. 21. Club owner Joshua Castellano told the press that the only reason he didn’t meet all requirements was because the authorization procedure had changed after the Colectiv fire in 2015, and that he had to make additional changes that hadn’t yet been completed.
At a Jan. 25 press conference, he said “95% of works were carried out.” He admitted to being fined in the past, and his lawyer emphasized that those fines were not issued for illegal perations but for missing the authorities’ target deadlines.
The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined yet. All camera footage was destroyed in the fire, said club manager Radu Tarkan. Eye-witnesses told the press that they had seen people smoking inside the club. Another said bottles with sparklers attached to them were served. Smoking and fireworks are illegal in Romania.
Castellano said cigarettes were not the cause. Bamboo already burned down once, in 2005. Castellano pointed out that the 2017 fire would have done much more damage if the club didn’t have sufficient emergency exits. Otherwise the 200 to 500 people – there are different estimates by different sources – couldn’t have been evacuated quickly enough to prevent any burns. Of the 44 hospitalized, two were still in medical care at the time of writing, none of whom had burns.
“Fortunately, nobody lost his life in the Bucharest club fire,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis wrote on Facebook. “However, we have been very close to another big tragedy. Rules and laws have apparently been broken again. Until we don’t understand once and for all that all must respect the law, society will always be in danger.”
After the 2015 Colectiv fire, authorities vowed to clamp down on clubs not meeting safety regulations. The tragedy also sparked nationwide protests against rampant corruption in the country, which allowed clubs to obtain licenses despite not matching the criteria. Fifteen months later, it seems little has changed. “In two rounds of elections held in Romania in 2016, corrupt mayors, county council presidents, and MPs were reelected.
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) returned to power in December 2016 and the new government and parliament are now trying to change the criminal law and cripple the anti-corruption rules in Romania,” Romania-Insider.com concludes.