Five members of a family were burnt alive in the wee hours of Wednesday when the Bengaluru-bound bus they were travelling in caught fire for some unknown reason, an official said.
"Around 4 to 4:30 a.m. in the morning on Wednesday in KR Halli gate near Hiriyur, fire broke out accidentally. 39 people were travelling in the bus. Except for five, all of them escaped," Chitradurga district Superintendent of Police (SP) G. Radhika said.
Hiriyur in Chitradurga district is 161 km northwest of Bengaluru.
The five deceased passengers are Sheela, 35, and her two children, Samruddha, 5, and Sparsha, 8, Sheela's sister Kavita, 30, and her daughter Rishita, 3.
Radhika said all five victims were completely charred to death.
Other than the five casualties, four more passengers were injured.
"Four people were injured, Chouhan, Basavaraj and Prasanth, all from Bijapur and going to Bengaluru for work. Two of them are BMTC cleaners," she said.
Mansoor Patel was the fourth injured person, a resident of Rajajinagar. He suffered a burn injury on his back. On Patel's request, he was referred to Bengaluru.
Incidentally, all the four suffered minor burn injuries and are out of danger.
Meanwhile, police arrested Siddhu, 37, the driver of the Kukkeshree travels bus. A case has been registered at Hiriyur rural police station under IPC Sections 279, 337 and 304.
According to Radhika, the actual reason for the blaze is yet to be ascertained and officials are working on finding out the possible cause.
"RTO and BMTC depot manager have all inspected the vehicle. The vehicle is completely burnt. We have called an expert team from FSL Davangere," said the IPS officer.
Officials from FSL visited and performed an initial inspection of the vehicle and its parts late on Wednesday evening.
"They have collected a few details and after the report comes we will be able to clearly know why the fire broke out. It might be because of a passenger carrying inflammable material or due to short circuit or due to someone smoking inside the bus," said Radhika.
She said there could be many probabilities for the blaze which needs to be ascertained and officials are on the job.
Meanwhile, police are collecting other details from Kukkeshree travels company, such as fitness certificate and other specifics.
Similarly, police will also check the company's fleet to see if any more vehicles like the one which got burned on Wednesday are present.
"We will be inspecting their travels also to find out similar kind of vehicles to know the material actually used in the vehicle," Radhika added.