Christmas Fire Kills at Least 26 in South China Bar

December 25, 2005 12:00 am Last Updated: December 25, 2005 12:00 am

BEIJING – A Christmas day fire gutted a bar in south China, killing at least 26 people and injuring another eight, residents and state media said on Monday.

Firefighters rushed to the scene and put out the blaze, which broke out shortly before midnight on Sunday at Tandao bar in Zhongshan, a city in Guangdong province, the media said.

A police officer in Tanzhou township reached by telephone ruled out media speculation that arson was the cause of the fire, but declined further comment.

“Witnesses said disco lights fell to the ground and exploded after the boss handed out Christmas gifts,” a resident who lives nearby told Reuters.

Police sealed off the street, where the bar occupied the first two storeys of a building, another resident named Chen said by telephone.

“We've heard lots of rumors. Some said it was disco lights. Others said it was a gas pipe,” Chen added.

Christmas has been gaining popularity in recent years among young atheist Chinese, who find it fashionable to party.