On Jan 27, tragedy struck as a fire blazed “The Kiss” nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil. With no fire alarms or sprinklers to douse the roaring flames, party goers ran for their lives all at once. They trampled over one another trying to escape in the overcrowded club. The only chance of escaping is one exit. Of the 2000 people that were reported in the building, 234 did not make it out.
Most of the 234 were under the age of 20 and local university students celebrating the last weekend before classes.
When the fire was extinguished, investigators found that most of the bodies were in piles in the bathrooms. They had died of smoke inhalation. The bodies were moved to a school gym in caskets as family members fear the worst that their loved ones were among them.
“The Kiss” night club did not meet any of the state codes for fire safety. One of them being for every 1500 square feet must be a fire extinguisher and a limit on how many people admitted in the club at one time.
According to the investigations so far lead the cause of the fire was the band playing used pyrotechnics in their performance in which a flare was lit by one of the band members. Another cause that lead to many deaths, the ceiling was made of acoustic foam insulation which the fire released toxic smoke making the night clubbers sick.
So far 118 were hospitalized with severe burns as the death toll continues to rise.
This incident has brought back memories to a similar situation in 2003 when a night club in Rhode Island “The Station” burned down killing 100 people. Both Brazil and Rhode Island nightclub fires have in common of poor staff, flammable walls, overcrowding, lack of fire sprinklers and improper use of indoor pyrotechnics when they went up in flames.
President Dilma Rousseff left Chile and rush back to Brazil to support the families victims. Rousseff has pushed for meetings of mayors to reinforce more safety codes. Authorities launched an investigation at nightclubs and restaurants across Brazil, so far 150 are temporarily shutdown until they have meet alterations.
People are now questioning if Brazil can handle their safely issues when they are hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 summer Olympics.