At the root of the unimaginable tragedy in Brazil — in which 234 people died and at least 120 others were hospitalized in a fire at a nightclub called Kiss — is wanton carelessness for others. According to police in Brazil, the fire was ignited by flares that were intended for outdoor use. Why did Gurizada Fandangueira, the band playing that night, set off those flares inside the club? Because they were cheap.
Penny-pinching by a band known for its onstage pyrotechnic displays may have cost more than 230 people their lives at a nightclub in southern Brazil, according to a police inspector leading the investigation into this weekend's deadly blaze.
Inspector Marcelo Arigony told reporters at a news conference Tuesday that members of the band knowingly purchased flares meant for outdoor use because they cost a mere $1.25 a piece, compared with the $35 price tag for an indoor flare.
"The flare lit was for outdoor use only, and the people who lit them know that," said Arigony, adding that members of the group acknowledged regularly opting for the less expensive flares. "They chose to buy those because they were cheaper than those that can be used indoors."
Arigony, whose cousin died in the fire, added: "The pyrotechnics were part of their show - the guys even wore gloves onstage so they wouldn't burn their hands."
Pyrotechnics were also the cause of the famous 2003 fire at The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. That fire was set ablaze by the manager of the band Great White, and it killed 100 and injured 230. Daniel Biechele, the band's manager, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. One owner of the club, Michael Derderian, was sentenced to 15 years in prison (plus probation and community service) but was released in Sept. 2009. The other, Jeffrey Derderian, received a 10-year suspended sentence to go along with probation and community service.
The families of the victims of the fire at The Station also settled for millions of dollars with various parties, including the band, the maker of the flammable soundproof foam that became ignited and a Providence television station whose cameraman allegedly blocked the exit to the club and didn't assist in evacuation.
The process of both criminal and civil litigation stemming from the Brazil fire is still far down the road, but is lingering in the distance nonetheless. According to the AP, the owners of Kiss had also lined their club with a flammable foam that wasn't proper soundproof lining. The club also did not have a fire alarm or a sprinkler system, and only one open exit.
[via the AP, image via AP]