Blaze terror at the party venue where fire exits were blocked

TERRIFIED party-goers had to flee a Dewsbury blaze through thick smoke because fire exits were blocked.

About 300 people were at the Taj Banqueting Suite on Wellington Road when flames ripped through the kitchen.

Kirklees Magistrates’ Court heard the former Dewsbury Library building went up in flames on August 20 last year.

Sarah Dimmock, prosecuting, said the likely cause of the blaze was propane gas cylinders used to light burners heating the food.

Two directors and the firm each admitted 10 charges of failing to comply with fire safety regulations.

Mohammed Faraz, of Savile Road, Dewsbury, and Mahfooz Hussain, of Ouzelwell Crescent, Thornhill Lees, face sentencing next month.

Ms Dimmock said no fire alarm was sounded and the fire exits were either locked or blocked.

She said: “This caused delay in evacuation and extreme distress to those people involved.”

A ground floor fire escape was blocked by a white panel which prevented it from opening.

Those unable to exit on a higher level were forced to go back down a spiral staircase into the smoke to get out.

There were no signs indicating emergency exits and  emergency lighting was inadequate.

The company failed to explain the fire system to those hiring the venue and no relevant paperwork had been given to them.

Ms Dimmock said: “If the defendants had given some thought about it they could have prevented panic on the night.”

Magistrates referred the case to Leeds Crown Court for sentencing on Tuesday, May 5.

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