A major fire accident occurred at kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brazil. The fire started at 2:30 on January 27th, 2013, by killing 242 people and injuring 630 others. It is considered as third largest disaster in history. The club had an area of about 600 meter square and a capacity of 700 people. On that day it was over crowed with 1200-1300 people attending a live musical show. Many people died on-site due to breathing carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning. Most of the victims who died were university students aged 19-21 years. After this incident Brazilian Authorities have adopted certain rules and regulations to prevent similar large scale disaster in the future.
“Pimenta e seus comparsas” and “Gurizada Fandangueira” these were the two bands which were scheduled to perform that night. The fire started around 2:30 am when the band Gurizada Fandangueira ignited a flare for pyrotechnic effect during the show. These flares are designed to be used outdoors, but in this case one of the member of the band aimed at ceiling with the flare. The flare then ignited the foam in the ceiling, which was used as a sound-proof material. Fire extinguisher did not work when one of the band member tried to use it to put off the flame. The flames spread rapidly with production of toxic carbon monoxide and thick smoke. A stampede occurred soon after the breakout of fire, and lack of exit signs and emergency exit doorways lead to huge number of deaths. 90% of victims were dead because of inhaling the toxic smoke. The property had no fire alarm or sprinklers. Many people tried to hide in bathrooms, because they mistook it for exits. Local fire department stated that the front door of the club was locked during the fire incidence. The fire department had to break the side wall of the nightclub to remove people trapped inside.
The state fire department investigated the accident and stated that the club did not have enough emergency exits and illegal use of firework. The owner of the club had falsely claimed to have two emergency doors in his club, to get the permit for the club to operate and the fire department also granted license to operate without having a physical inspection of the club. It was also reported that the fire extinguisher in the club were disabled at the time of incidence.
After the incidence, a state law called as “LawKiss” was introduced in Rio Grande do Sul. This law established standard of safety, prevention and protection against fire in building or company. This law resulted in inspection of all the clubs in Brazil, and later it was found that about 40 % of the nation’s nightclub were operating against safety regulations.
This accident would be prevented by following some safety precautions such as:
- By never filling any place over its capacity.
- If the club had more emergency exits.
- If the club had proper signs which points out to the nearest exit.
- If fire department had done regular check-ups of the club.