January 27, 2013

"Flames raced through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, killing more than 230 people..."

"... as panicked partygoers gasped for breath in the smoke-filled air, stampeding toward a single exit partially blocked by those already dead."
“The band that was onstage began to use flares and, suddenly, they stopped the show and pointed them upward... At that point, the ceiling caught fire. It was really weak, but in a matter of seconds it spread.”...

Similar circumstances led to a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people in the United States. Pyrotechnics used as a stage prop by the 1980s rock band Great White set ablaze cheap soundproofing foam on the walls and ceiling of a Rhode Island music venue.

27 comments:

chickelit said...

Pyrotechnics used as a stage prop by the 1980s rock band Great White set ablaze cheap soundproofing foam on the walls and ceiling of a Rhode Island music venue.

Great White Phosphorus

rhhardin said...

Bach was constantly burning down cathedrals that way too.

kentuckyliz said...

The building I work in has pull handles on push doors--not crash bar push handles. I don't know why the fire marshal hasn't cited us for it yet.

AllenS said...

Outlaw high magazine clips of flares.

chuckR said...

In a classic case of closing the barn door after the horses are out, RI now has tougher fire code requirements. In an equally classic case of political CYA, no fire inspector's career was harmed in the slightest for failing to recognize that the sound deadening foam that was ignited by the pyrotechnics was, as termed at the time, like solid gasoline. And the club capacity had previously been increased a few times by the fire inspector - in total, more than doubled, IIRC.

Dante said...

Better ban rock music.

Chip Ahoy said...

That sentence didn't sound like Gatsby at all.

Synova said...

What a tragedy. So horrific.

Marshal said...

chuckR said...
In an equally classic case of political CYA, no fire inspector's career was harmed in the slightest


We seem to have an extraoridinary unwillingness to tell people in government their incompetence precludes a career in their chosen field. It's a key reason why government continues to fail at rates inconceivable in private enterprise.

Lem said...

That sentence didn't sound like Gatsby at all.

You know there must have been some play between all that fire and the disco lights...

But considering the 'smoke-filled air', maybe not.

edutcher said...

Now you know the CSI:Miami episode about this has aired down there almost as many times as it has up here.

donald said...

They been trying to ban rock music since about 1948.

P. Aaron Jones said...

Rock events sure kill scores more people than 'assault' weapons do.

William said...

Setting off fireworks in a crowded nightclub. For sheer stupidity that's hard to top.....I wonder how long before some klutz sets off a nuclear bomb somewhere. It doesn't have to be North Korea or Iran, just some Bradley Manning type who's really pissed off at the world and knows how to connect the red wire to the green one, or maybe just some guy with a killer hangover who mistakes the red wire for the green one.....I wonder if more people have been killed due to malice or stupidity.

EDH said...

A video crew was taping club operations the night of the RI Station nightclub fire.

Here's the video cued at the point the pyro lights the foam.

It doesn't take long.

Not for the squeamish.

Levi Starks said...

The right to gather in large numbers in crowded nightclubs at 2 o'clock in the morning shall not be infringed.

Tom said...

I'm safety professional and I tell everyone who will listen - never walk by and leave a locked or blocked exit. Ever! Whatever you have to or whoever you have to call, make sure you keep exits clear. Every time.

EDH said...

As if to restore your "faith" in the justice system, guess who paid the largest single settlement in the RI nightclub fire?

The employer of the guy filming.

In February 2008, Providence television station WPRI-TV made an out-of-court settlement of US $30 million as a result of the claim that their video journalist was said to be obstructing escape and not helping people exit. WPRI-TV (owned by LIN Broadcasting) was filming a story on nightclub tragedies, and was there that night to film as part of their story.

More:

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Butler caused the death of an undetermined number of people by standing in a doorway and filming the chaos.

"Rather than leaving the building, or assisting patrons of The Station to escape," says the suit, "Butler stood within the building, directly in an egress route, and filmed distressed patrons trying to leave the nightclub. Butler's actions directly impeded the exit of patrons and contributed to the slowdown, backup, and additional logjam for those attempting to leave through the main exit."

At last week's session, Butler insisted he did not block anyone's escape and filmed only briefly as he was leaving the club, the two sources said. After Butler first spotted the flames, he kept his camera running as he exited the club. Plaintiffs charge that he paused at the door for 10 to 15 seconds, an allegation that was in dispute, one source said.

Butler's lawyer, Charles "Chip" Babcock, could not be reached for comment. But he insisted when Butler was added to the lawsuit in August 2004 that Butler did nothing wrong, saying that "Brian Butler saved lives that night." He also implied that Butler was sued because his employer had vast resources that could be tapped by the plaintiffs.

Lem said...

Also at the Great Gatsby "dancing now on the canvas in the garden"... a glass house is not a place too difficult to break out of.

These parties were opulently safe?

I really dont know... I havent read the book nor seen any of the films... thats why I have to take this class.

Dante said...

EDH, that is horrifying.

It does seem the guy told him to get out of the way, but folks coming out seemed to saunter out, and so it's not certain he added a single death.

The ten seconds of film footage, if that, equated to a year's work, is about 22 Trillion dollars/year.

Mutaman said...

"We seem to have an extraoridinary unwillingness to tell people in government their incompetence precludes a career in their chosen field. It's a key reason why government continues to fail at rates inconceivable in private enterprise."

What about Senator Ron who is clearly incompetent? Yet he was successful in private enterprise. Of course some say that was all due to marrying up.

Clyde said...

I saw other versions of the story than the WaPo article which noted that the band member who died, Danilo Jacques, made it out of the club but went back into the burning building to try to save his accordion.

Now, there are certain times when you might want to heroically rush back into a burning building from which you have just escaped and risk your own irreplaceable life: To rescue your wife or girlfriend, members of your family, or your friends. But a musical instrument? That's misplaced heroism and likely to get you nominated for a Darwin Award. Perhaps they'll play "Billy, Don't Be A Hero" at his funeral.

Larry J said...

Marshal said...

We seem to have an extraoridinary unwillingness to tell people in government their incompetence precludes a career in their chosen field. It's a key reason why government continues to fail at rates inconceivable in private enterprise.


You want to hold government employees to the same standard as in the private sector? Why, that's just crazy talk!

As an illustration of your point, we have 3 sad NASA anniversaries this week.

1. 46 years ago today, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee were killed in the Apollo 1 fire. Who knew that filling the capsule with a 100% oxygen atmosphere at high pressure was dangerous? Few if any NASA employees lost their jobs although a few were reassigned.

2. 27 years ago tomorrow, Challenger was destroyed and all 7 crewmembers were killed when they were launched (against the engineers' recommendations) in excessively cold weather, causing the seals on one of the SRBs to leak. There was evidence of seal leakage on prior flights but nothing was done about it. No one was fired for that one, either.

3. 10 years ago this Friday, the crew of the Columbia was lost when their Shuttle came apart on reentry. The cause was damage to the heat resistent tiles due to a large piece of foam hitting the wing during liftoff. That foam issue had been noted many times in the past but they'd always gotten home. No one lost their job over that one, either.

Peter said...

It's very difficult for me to understand why it would ever be lawful to set off pyrotechnics indoors.

But I do recall working in an office building in which one needed a key card (badge) to ... exit the building (in addition to needing one to enter).

The Bolingbrook, IL, fire authorities approved this, and it continued for about a year- until said fire authority was unable to get out of the building (after a thunderstorm and power failure).

I suppose if there had actually been a fire and the dorrs had failed we would have used office chairs to smash out windows.
Nonetheless, this approval was not in some corrupt third-world country somewhere; it apparently happened because the not-so-tech-savvy fire authorities were all too willing to be convinced that the system was truly fail-safe. Even though every engineer in that building (and there were many) could have told them that such faith in technology was folly.

Levi Starks said...

"But a musical instrument?"

Perhaps a violin..

ErnieG said...

"But a musical instrument?"

No. An accordion.

Sunslut7 said...

Ann,
Google Coconut Grove Nightclub Fire and the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. I forget the exact years when these fires occurred but it was most likely in the 1930s/40s for the Coconut Grove Fire and the the early 1960s for the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. Both fires changed the way restaurants, nightclubs and bars operated with regard to fire safety issues.