There are over 230 people were confirmed dead due to the Sunday fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil. More are injured and recouping in the hospital from inhaling toxic chemicals while escaping. Most of the victims were young people who attend the local universities and a good deal were under 20 years old. They were about half men and half women.
According to reports, the fire started after a small machine used to create sparks ignited a small fire. The band members said they employed the machine many times before without incident. However, this time there was a small fire and the extinguisher nearby wasn't working properly. Soon, the ceiling was ablaze.
Security attempted to block the exits, some survivors have reported. It was a Kiss club policy to require all patrons to pay the tab before leaving. That attempt was overrun by hundreds of panicked people flooding the only door available to them. The small windowless club was filling with the toxic fumes of the ceiling insulation and there was only one available exit.
Emergency crews were notified immediately, but had almost no time to attempt a full rescue. Bodies were blocking the doorway and volunteers were hacking away the wall to open up the entry way. Inside, more bodies of victims of smoke inhalation crowded the club. There were apparently at least 50 victims piled into the bathroom who had probably confused the door with the exit in the cloud of smoke.
It seems that while the cause of the fire was due to the entertainment effects, there could be negligence on the part of the club owners. The venue was filled beyond capacity, which compounded the problem of a single emergency exit. Additionally, it was the cheap ceiling insulation that filled the club with fumes that killed more people than the fire itself.
This nightclub accident is similar to a United States accident in Rhode Island when a band's pyrotechnics set off the cheap insulating foam. In that case, both the nightclub owners and the manager of the band were convicted for their roles in the deaths of 100 people while hundreds more were injured in the fire.
The fire in Brazil is one of the deadliest nightclub accidents ever. It is the most deadly accident involving fire in the past decade. While the responsibility for the fire remains to be decided, there is a chance that there are multiple parties at fault, like in the Rhode Island case. Certainly, the families of the victims will have a chance to pursue their day in personal injury court.