Little done in Brazil to improve safety after fire

AP News
Posted: May 22, 2013 6:35 PM
Little done in Brazil to improve safety after fire

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Little has been done to improve the safety of public gathering places since a nightclub fire killed 242 people earlier this year in southern Brazil, relatives of the victims said Wednesday.

The relatives met in Brasilia to discuss what safety measures have been adopted in Brazil since the Jan. 27 fire that destroyed the Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria.

"Almost nothing has been done to improve the safety of nightclubs," said Adherbal Alves Ferreira, whose 22-year-old daughter, Jennefer, perished in the fire. "We need more vigorous laws and demand they be followed and obeyed."

Police have said the fire started when the band performing at the club lit a flare, which ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling. The cyanide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide that was released killed most of the victims.

The fire roared through the crowded, windowless nightclub, filling the air with flames and thick, toxic smoke. There was no alarm or sprinkler system and only one working exit.

About 50 victims were found in the club's two bathrooms, where they crowded after blinding smoke evidently caused them to believe the doors were exits.

Brazil has long turned a blind eye to safety and infrastructure concerns about public gathering places. The disaster, the worst fire of its kind in more than a decade, raised questions about whether Brazilian authorities can ensure safety in such venues as the country prepares to host next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

"After the fire nightclubs across the country were inspected and more than 600 of them were shut down," said Congressman Paulo Pimenta, who heads a commission looking into ways to improve safety and fire prevention requirements in public buildings. "What happened in Santa Maria could have happened anywhere in the country."