Brazil Nightclub Fire: Guards Blocked the Door

Club may have broken safety violations: officials

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 27, 2013 5:26 PM CST

(Newser) – Details are emerging on the horrific nightclub fire that killed at least 233 people in Brazil early this morning. A band's pyrotechnic display ignited the ceiling with a flare that sent patrons running for the single exit—but bouncers suspected them of skipping on their bar tabs and initially blocked the way, Reuters reports. Only when flames swept across the ceiling were partygoers allowed to run for it. Soon shirtless patrons outside were helping firefighters smash windows and walls in a desperate attempt to save people trapped in the club, reports the Guardian.

"Smoke filled the place instantly, the heat became unbearable," said one survivor. "People could not find the only exit. They went to the toilet thinking it was the exit and many died there." Officials would spot several safety violations, such as the flare and a locked exit, and said the club may have exceeded capacity by 1,000 people, CNN reports. As rescue workers laid out bodies in a nearby gym, workers and officials wept with family and friends of the victims. "It's the saddest, saddest day of my life," said the mother of a 22-year-old victim. "I never thought I would have to live to see my girl go away."

A woman cries over the coffin of a victim at a gymnasium where bodies were brought for identification in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
A woman cries over the coffin of a victim at a gymnasium where bodies were brought for identification in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Nabor Goulart)
Relatives cry next to a coffin at a gymnasium where bodies were brought for identification in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
Relatives cry next to a coffin at a gymnasium where bodies were brought for identification in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Nabor Goulart)
A crowd stands outside the Kiss nightclub during a fire inside the club in Santa Maria city,  Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
A crowd stands outside the Kiss nightclub during a fire inside the club in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Roger Shlossmacker)
People help an injured man, victim of a fire in a club in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state,  Brazil,  Sunday, Jan. 27,  2013.
People help an injured man, victim of a fire in a club in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Agencia RBS)
Injured people lies on the ground outside the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria city,  Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
Injured people lies on the ground outside the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Roger Shlossmacker)
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff comforts victim's relatives in Santa Maria, southern Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff comforts victim's relatives in Santa Maria, southern Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Roberto Stuckert Filho/Brazil's Presidency)
Relatives of victims react as they wait for news near the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria city,  Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. \
Relatives of victims react as they wait for news near the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. \   (AP Photo/Ronald Mendes-Agencia RBS)
Relatives of victims react in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
Relatives of victims react in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Evandro Sturm)
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