A night of partying at a club in the Brazilian university city of Santa Maria turned into a weekend tragedy early Sunday morning, when flames possibly sparked by a pyrotechnics display enveloped the building in toxic smoke. More than 230 people — most of them patrons in their 20s — were killed. As Brazilian police continue to investigate the blaze, friends and family of victims prepare to bury the dead.
Deadly fires have broken out at nightclubs around the world for decades, with many such incidents racking up mass casualties. Here are several notable examples:
- Perm, Russia — December 2009: Indoor fireworks at the Lame Horse Nightclub ignited a plastic ceiling decorated with branches. The death toll was 152.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina — December 2004: A flare set off by a concertgoer sparked the ceiling foam at an overcrowded nightclub. The club owner was among a handful of people sentenced to prison time. The fire killed 194 people.
- West Warwick, R.I. — February 2003: Pyrotechnics set off during a performance by the hard-rock band Great White at The Station nightclub ignited the foam sound-proofing walls and ceiling, killing 100 people.
- Caracas, Venezuela — December 2002: A basement fire in the overcrowded La Goajira nightclub killed 47 people. About 400 patrons had been packed inside at the time. Investigators never confirmed the cause of the fire, though it's believed it may have started due to an electrical fault.
- Southgate, Ky. — May 1977: Kentucky's Beverly Hills Supper Club was not equipped with an automatic sprinkler system when a deadly fire broke out, killing 165 patrons. Investigators blamed the fire on problems with the aluminum wiring.
- Boston, Mass. — November 1942: One of the deadliest dance-hall fires in U.S. history was at the Cocoanut Grove in Boston more than 70 years ago. The club was over capacity by 32 people, and 492 people were killed. The cause of the fire remains unsolved.