| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 27 A Brazilian nightclub fire that
killed more than 200 people on Sunday recalled a similar tragedy
a decade ago in Rhode Island, where 100 people died when a
nightclub's highly flammable insulation was ignited during a
rock band's pyrotechnics show.
In both cases, police investigators cited the use of indoor
pyrotechnics, sound insulation catching fire, blocked exits and
"We appear to have very short memories," said John Barylick,
author of "Killer Show," a book about the Rhode Island fire, and
a lead attorney representing victims in that case. "This is
exactly the perfect storm that we had at the Station nightclub
10 years ago."
Police say the blaze at the Boate Kiss club in Santa Maria,
in southern Brazil, spread within seconds after a flare ignited
during a pyrotechnics performance appeared to set the ceiling on
Many of the estimated 500 people inside were unable to find
exits as dark smoke filled the large room, and at least one exit
was blocked, police said.
The tragedy at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode
Island came during a performance of the band Great White and was
the deadliest rock concert in U.S. history. It led to sweeping
changes in fire safety rules, and heavy penalties for those held
On that night in 2003, the small wooden club became engulfed
in flames and many in the over-capacity crowd of 458 people were
fatally trapped. Aside from the 100 people killed, some 200 were
injured in the inferno.
The band's tour manager and two men who owned the nightclub
pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2006. And in 2009,
hundreds of survivors and victims' relatives reached a $176
million settlement with some 50 defendants held responsible.
The state of Rhode Island, meanwhile, tightened its fire
codes, requiring sprinkler systems in places of public assembly,
and made it a requirement that nightclub employees be trained in
fire safety. Club owners banned indoor fireworks at concerts.
This fall, the owner of the land where the Station club once
stood donated the site for a memorial to the victims.
The disaster in Brazil also rekindled memories of a 2004
blaze at the Cromagnon Club in Buenos Aires that killed 200. In
that incident, a concert-goer ignited a flare.
Following the Argentine fire, Buenos Aires set up a new
inspection agency in an effort to restore the credibility of
health and safety monitoring at music venues and nightclubs in
the capital. But critics say corruption is rife and that much
remains to be done.
Barylick's advice for nighclub patrons is to be vigilant.
"No matter what the venue does I think the takeaway from
this is, we are our own best fire marshals and we can't depend
on others," he said.
"Most important, when you get to your seat, before you do
anything else, find your nearest exit, and it probably won't be
the one you came in by. That's the best you can do," Barylick
(Additional reporting by Helen Popper in Buenos Aires; Editing
by Edith Honan and Bill Trott)