Authorities in Brazil have arrested 3 people in connection with the Santa Maria nightclub fire that left 231 people dead and hundreds more injured this weekend. According to a Jan. 28 report by ABC News, the owner of the club, the club’s chief of security and one member of the band were arrested and are being questioned about the events that led to the deaths. Another co-owner of the club is being sought by police for questioning as well.
Investigators believe the fire started when the band, Gurizada Fandangueira, ignited some pyrotechnic flares as part of the show and the sparks set the foam sound insulating material installed on the ceiling ablaze. The burning material created a thick, putrid smoke very quickly.
Guitarist Rodrigo Martins said he and his band mates began playing around 2:15 a.m. and had completed about 5 songs when he noticed the ceiling was on fire. According to Martins, "It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks. It's harmless, we never had any trouble with it." He said a security guard handed him a fire extinguisher which the singer tried to use but found it didn’t work.
Martins also confirmed that one member of the band, accordion player Danilo Jacques, 28, died in the blaze. The remaining five members of the band made it to safety.
Kiss is a popular nightclub in the college town of Santa Maria where no less than three universities exist. As the flames and smoke threatened, the patrons panicked and tried to escape, many less than 20 years old. The problem was the club appears to have only had one open exit according to police Maj. Cleberson Braida Bastianello.
The Security Team
Survivors from the fiery nightmare said security guards briefly attempted to block the only exit. Police inspector Marcelo Arigony confirmed this report but said it didn’t go on for very long. He told reporters he doesn’t think it was done in bad faith but to reduce the chaos and confusion. He also stated several security guards died in the blaze. One security guard said the club had been filled to capacity and that somewhere between 1000 and 2000 people were inside when the fire broke out in the Santa Maria nightclub.
The death toll stands at 245 and includes victims who later died at the hospital. The names of those arrested are not currently being released.
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