The balze erupted at 2 am in the Lounge cafe, which was located on the first floor of an old building in the downtown part of Serbia's second-largest city, 80 kilometres northwest of Belgrade.
One of the three hospitalized customers was in a critical condition, hospital sources said. Firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes, but could only gain access to the cafe through a narrow stairwell, its walls adorned with inflammable textiles, witness said.
Firemen needed 40 minutes to put out the blaze.
The cause of the fire was under investigation, but people who had visited the place earlier said it was only a "matter of time" before disaster struck.
"When it was crowded, with all the cigarette-lighting and shuolder-rubbing below those furry carpets hanging on the walls it was only a matter of time before something like this happened," one patron who left before the blaze broke out told radio B92.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Şubat 2008, 16:36