Catastrophe at club in Brazil claims 236 lives

Late last month, it was hard to escape news of the fire that swept through a nightclub in Brazil killing 236 and injuring 126 more. The fire broke out in the club when a band that was performing used a flare that was meant only for use outside. Soundproofing, that was located on the ceiling, caught fire and sent occupants scrambling to get out of the building. While this happened in a different country, catastrophes like this one can and do happen in the United States. As home to many nightclubs, Miami is not immune.

Many of those who were attending the concert at the club were unable to get out as it only had one exit and it was blocked. The situation was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that the club was overcapacity at the time. Some of the victims died after being crushed in a stampede that commenced as a result of the confusion others died as a result of the fire.

Most of the people who succumbed to the fire did so as a result of the fumes. This was in part because the soundproofing that caught fire was made out of synthetic foam that emitted fumes that were toxic. At least half of the individuals who are still in the hospital are dealing with repercussions from these fumes. Accordingly, they are on respirators to help them breathe.

There is no doubt that the concert attendees never dreamed that their evening of fun would end the way it did. Places such as nightclubs need to have plans in place to address such emergencies should they arise. This includes having emergency exits that are unlocked and well marked and security personnel on staff to take the lead in keeping patrons safe. When the failure of a club owner to have such things in place leads to a tragedy such as this one, civil lawsuits may be filed against the owner.

Source: Reuters, “Brazil nightclub owners, band detained 30 more days after fire,” Paulo Prada and Brad Haynes, Feb. 1, 2013