All five men died as the Kailash Bar and Restaurant in the city centre caught fire around 2.30 a.m., Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) M.N. Anucheth told reporters here.
Two fire engines were rushed to the spot after an eyewitness alerted the Police Control Room.
Fire and smoke was seen emanating from the bar on the ground floor of the building in the crowded vegetable market area.
According to eye witnesses, many of the alcohol bottles and other inflammable items stored in the bar-cum-restaurant to serve customers had also fuelled the fire and gutted the premises to cinders.
The cause of the fire was unknown. It was being investigated. “Short circuit is suspected to have sparked it,” said Anucheth.
“We have registered a case of criminal negligence amounting to culpable homicide against bar owner R.V. Dayashankar, who obtained the trade and liquor licences to run it,” added Anucheth.
Fire brigade personnel retrieved the charred bodies of the victims after dousing the fire by 4 a.m.
The victims were identified as Swami, 23, Prasad, 20, Mahesh, 35, Manjunath, 45, and Keerthi, 20.
The bodies were shifted to the state-run Victoria hospital for autopsy.
The fire incident in the pub city and tech hub occurred about 10 days after a fire in a rooftop pub claimed 14 lives in Mumbai on December 29.
It has been almost a year since the Karnataka government allowed pubs, bars, restaurants and eateries in the cosmopolitan city to remain open till 1 a.m., ostensibly for catering to hundreds of tourists and thousands of techies from software firms and call or data centres, which operate on 24×7 basis through the year.
Bengaluru Mayor Sampath Raj, who inspected the burnt bar, told reporters that he had ordered an inquiry to find out why the victims were sleeping in the premises after downing the shutters post 1 a.m.