Massive fuel-depot fire breaks out in Brazil

May 23, 2013

AP/ABC News, 05/23/2013

A massive fire broke out Thursday at a fuel depot on the northern outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, sending bright orange flames leaping high into the air and thick black smoking rolling upward and enveloping the area.

Firefighters said in an emailed statement that no injuries had been reported yet. They evacuated a two-block area around the blaze. There was no word on a possible cause.

About an hour after the fire broke out, it began to spread from the six fuel storage tanks that initially caught fire. Residents of the area told Globo TV that they heard loud explosions before the blaze started.

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Little done in Brazil to improve safety after fire

May 23, 2013

AP/ABC News, 05/23/2013

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.”

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Carnival float catches fire, killing 4 in Brazil

February 12, 2013

Stan Lehman – The Miami Herald, 02/12/2013

SAO PAULO — A fire on a Carnival float has killed four people and injured five in the Brazilian port city of Santos.

A fire department official says the float caught fire shortly after the Sangue Jovem samba school ended its parade at dawn on Tuesday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

He says three of the victims were pushing the float. A woman watching the parade was the fourth. The condition of the five injured was not immediately known.

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Brazil nightclub fire prompts inspections

January 31, 2013

Bradley Brooks – ABC News/AP, 01/31/2013

Brazilian authorities inspected and shuttered night spots around the country on Thursday as part of a crackdown on unsafe public spaces after a deadly nightclub fire left 235 people dead and shocked the nation.

The action comes just a week before annual Carnival celebrations start across the country, filling streets and venues with revelers.

Inspectors in the Amazon city of Manaus have ordered the temporary closure of some 58 bars, nightclubs and other public buildings there, the city’s Em Tempo newspaper reported. Owners of the affected night spots staged a protest Thursday outside City Hall to denounce what they said were arbitrary closures, the newspaper said.

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A night of tragedy

January 30, 2013

The Economist, 01/27/2013

THE death toll from a fire that broke out in the early hours of January 27th in a Brazilian nightclub has already reached 232, with more than 100 injured, many severely. Almost all the victims were young; the nightclub, Kiss, in the university town of Santa Maria in the far southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, was popular with students. Most of the deaths were from smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.

Some survivors were flown to neighbouring cities, including the state capital, Porto Alegre, for treatment. A sports centre in Santa Maria was hastily turned into a makeshift morgue. It is customary in Brazil for burials to be held within 24 hours of death; the high death toll may mean mass funerals too.

Questions are being asked about the quality of the nightclub building and whether emergency procedures were followed. The blaze appears to have been started by a pyrotechnic flare lit on stage by a member of the band; sound-proofing material caught fire, producing toxic gases which quickly overpowered many in the crowd. Police said that at least one exit was blocked. Television stations broadcast images of firefighters, helped by bystanders, breaking through a wall to get in. Some of the victims were found in the bathrooms, possibly because they mistook them for emergency exits, and were then unable to come back out through the panicked crowds.

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Funerals, tears, cries for justice after Brazil club fire

January 29, 2013

Ben Brumfield, Shasta Darlington, & Marilia Brochetto – CNN, 01/29/2013

Souls rose to heaven symbolically Monday night, when marchers in this southern Brazilian town remembered those who perished in a nightclub inferno during a packed concert.

The mourners, wearing white, released 231 white helium balloons into the sky — one for each life lost.

They hope there won’t be more.

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Brazil detains band, club owners after nightclub fire

January 28, 2013

Ana Flor – Reuters, 01/28/2013

Brazilian police on Monday detained the owners of the nightclub where a fire killed 231 people as well as two band members whose pyrotechnics they say triggered the blaze as the focus turned to finding those responsible for the tragedy.

No charges were filed against the four men, but prosecutors said they could be held for up to five days as police pressed them for clues as to how the fire early Sunday morning could have caused so many deaths.

Stunned residents in the southern city of Santa Maria began attending a marathon of funerals in the pre-dawn hours of Monday. Many of the dead were university students who knew each other.

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Three men arrested in Brazil club fire

January 28, 2013

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 01/28/2013

Authorities arrested Monday three men in conjunction with the deaths of more than 200 people in a nightclub fire in southern Brazil, including one owner of the venue and two performers whose pyrotechnics display allegedly went awry and started the blaze.

The state authorities said the arrests were “temporary” and were part of efforts to push the investigation forward, a legal power available to Brazilian courts, and didn’t necessarily mean the men would be charged. A fourth such arrest was expected.

Survivors of the fire—Brazil’s deadliest in nearly five decades—have said that sometime around 2 a.m. Sunday morning a Roman candle or emergency traffic flare that figured in a country-music performance ignited a fire in the roof of the club, called Kiss. Witnesses said either a musician or a security guard grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to stop the fire. But the extinguisher didn’t function.

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Brazil nightclub fire: ‘like a war zone’ with bodies piled

January 28, 2013

Shasta Darlington, Chelsea J. Carter – CNN, 01/28/2013

Guitarist Rodrigo Martins was preparing to launch into the sixth song of his band’s set when he saw embers fall.

The acoustic foam insulation on the ceiling of the Kiss nightclub in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria was on fire, and it was beginning to spread.

The hot ash fell onto the stage and dance floor.

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Frenzied scene as toll tops 200 in Brazil blaze

January 28, 2013

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 01/27/2013

A fire ignited by a flare from a band’s pyrotechnics spectacle swept through a nightclub filled with hundreds of university students early on Sunday morning in Santa Maria, a city in southern Brazil, killing at least 233 people, officials said.

Health workers hauled bodies from the club, called Kiss, to hospitals in Santa Maria all through Sunday morning. Some of the survivors were taken to the nearby city of Porto Alegre to be treated for burns. Valdeci Oliveira, a local legislator, told reporters that he saw piles of bodies in the nightclub’s bathrooms.

Col. Guido Pedroso de Melo, the commander of the city’s Fire Department, said in televised remarks that security guards had blocked the exit, which intensified the panic as people in the club stampeded to the doors.

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