Revenge clue as sex club fire toll reaches 8

AN ARSON attack on a London sex cinema club was being blamed yesterday on a man banned after a fight there earlier in the evening.

Police launched a murder investigation into the deaths of eight men after the blaze, which broke out at the private Dream City club just before 6pm on Saturday.

They want to trace a man seen with a red petrol can who later ran empty- handed towards Farringdon railway station. He was about 20, white, with short dark hair and is believed to have been wearing a dark jacket with a light fleck, dark trousers and black shoes.

A local resident who helped the injured said she heard two men saying someone had fallen down the club stairs after being punched and had returned for revenge. A local garage employee said he sold a petrol can to a man who filled it from a pump.

Detective Superintendent John Chaplin said the blaze, described by a senior firefighter as the worst he had seen, appeared to have started in the entrance of the four-storey building in St John Street, near Smithfield Market. Sixteen men suffered serious injuries. Last night seven were critical.

Dream City showed straight and gay sex films and occupied the second and third floors. Witnesses said flames engulfed all floors within minutes of the building 'exploding'. The injured suffered severe burns, broken bones and the effects of smoke inhalation. Some jumped from third-floor windows. The pavement outside became strewn with dead and injured as police and ambulancemen battled to revive badly burned victims.

'They were bringing people outside, laying them down and trying to resuscitate them, pumping their chests,' said Valerie Martin, who lives near by. She added people could not escape because the fire had begun in the main hallway.

Peter Cook, a removal man working near by, saved one middle-aged man before firemen arrived by backing a lorry up against the building. He said the trapped were hysterical as they scrambled to escape.

Ken Emsley, station commander at Euston, said: 'It was a horrific incident. The worst I have experienced in 30 years. It was absolutely chaotic. We were working under extreme conditions, with so many people trying to get out of the building.'

Efforts to escape may have been hampered by a lack of lighting. One man who had been inside said the cinema was 'very dark and very seedy'. Islington council said yesterday that the club was not licensed as a cinema. The owner has been traced and was being interviewed by police.

Last night post-mortem examinations showed seven died from smoke inhalation and one from multiple injuries consistent with a fall from a window. Mr Chaplin hoped to name the dead once the next of kin had been told.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water