133 Who would you blame?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm sure you've already heard the report that 235 people died in a nightclub fire in Brazil. A country music band performing at the Kiss nightclub in the college town of Santa Maria lit a flare, which ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling. The space was packed with an estimated 1,200 to 1,300 people. Many could not get out.

I just wondered if you had heard who the nightclub owner blamed. And why.

Attorney Jader Marques said his client, Elissandro Spohr, "regretted having ever been born" because of his grief over the fire, blames the tragedy on "a succession of errors made by the whole country."

I'll list them:

• There was only one exit, the front door. It was 105 feet from the bandstand. A second exit is required only if the distance is 131 feet or more.

• For the same reason of distance, sprinklers and alarms were not required.

• The three fire extinguishers did not work, were clearly cheap models that should not be used anywhere, and had not been inspected.

• The pyrotechnics used by the band should not have been set off indoors.

The owner says that the system is broken. That such things are routinely ignored. That the state bears the responsibility for not created and following safety rules.

Major Gerson Pereira, an inspector with the local fire department, comments, "Do I agree with the fact that there was only one exit? No! Do I agree that the roof should have been covered with flammable material? No, I don't."

He adds, "I would have liked to shut down this place," but he says that if he had the fire department would have been sued because no law had been broken.

Your comment?


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Are we infants that we need our diapers changed, our bottles filled and stuffed in our mouths? Everyone decries the negligence of the place and the people, and rightly so. But, the attitude is to see those who frequented that place and others like it, as ‘innocent’.

Maybe so. But, upon each of us is the responsibility to watch out for ourselves. Could they have known? The information seems to suggest this was not the first such incident. Therefore, those people should have known the risk.

Was the government at fault for not having stringent rules to prevent that? No. Should the government be changed to warn people of the risks? Yes. But, I am a firm believer that the answer to every risk is not a flood of restrictions imposed on all citizens for the actions of a few. The morass we live in is the example of that.


Bernice Winandy 3 years, 11 months ago

You mean you are only supposed to do the right thing if it is required by law. The guy is trying to pass the buck. I read that his bouncers were not letting people leave because they had not paid for their drinks. Whether this was true or not??????????????

Is it possible that the owner was out to make as much $$$$$$$$$$$$ as he could and that is why he did not take safety precautions that he apparently knew about?

Hey how do all you small government people feel about this issue? Should the government have passed laws about exits, fire extinguishers, etc.?


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't believe there was NOT another door. Do they get deliveries thru the front door? Take thier garbage out the front door and enter the front door on opening. I think there is enough fault to go around to everyone concerned, the owner for not having the sprinklers working, and a second door if there wasn't one, the band for lighting the flare, the fire dept. for not having inspections. There must be some kind of building code and it was ignored. Like some of the business in Payson. All exit doors are to open outward. Look next time you go shopping or to an office in Payson and notice how many doors open inwards.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


That's the first time I've ever heard anyone express that viewpoint, Allan. Thinking about it, I think it's one time I agree with government restrictions. I don't think they should go nuts, but I think it serves a genuine public service, meaning one that most people would vote for if it was put to a general vote.

I'll tell you why I say that. When you walk into a public place you don't really have any way of knowing whether or not it is safe. If the law left it up to you to check, you'd have to go around the building, look for exits, look for fire extinguishers, see when they were last refilled and certified, look at the way everything was arranged to see whether or not you could get out ina fire, check the back doors to make sure they were unlocked, make sure the bathroom window was large enough to get out of, that it had no wire over it--the whole bit. Just asking too much.

So I come down on the side of public regulations.

But would I jam myself into an overcrowded place that was going to have fireworks indoors? Now we're into things that are a matter of personal choice. They says the place had twice the number of people allowed. It must have been jam-packed. Wouldn't get me into a joint like that.

And think about it: They said there was over a thousand people in there. Remember the old movie theaters, how many people they had in them? That was 1100 to 1200 people. Picture that many people jammed into a little night club. They were doomed the minute that fire started. There was NO way they were all going to get out.

"I read that his bouncers were not letting people leave because they had not paid for their drinks."

That took a lot of brains. That's like the one in CT where the exits were padlocked.

Right, Pat. What really got me was that there was a distance there had to be to the front door before there had to be a back door. How much brains does it take to realize that a fire can start anywhere--including at the front door.

I may be a little prejudiced because of something that happened a long time ago.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

I was IN a pubic place once when a fire started. I SAW what happened.

Lolly and I, and Lolly's aunt, were in the BALCONY when a theater fire started. Downstairs--think about this if you want to get scared--were 1000 Pakistanis. Up in the balcony, which was not full, there were about 150 people.

The movie? You won't believe this. The old version of KIng Kong, who was at that very moment roaring and swiping at someone in a tree. "R-R-R-R-R-R!!!"

All of a sudden someone yelled "AAG LAGANA-A-A-A-A-A-!!"

The lights went on, a thousand people screamed, "E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E!," there was a sound like elephants stampeding as two thousand feet down below us hit the deck and the whole crowd ran screaming for the eight doors, slammed into them, and rammed them open. Up in the balcony, the scream was even louder--"AAG LAGANA-A-A-A-A-A-!--as people rammed their way out of rows of seats into the aisles and began running up the stairs. We were seated at the end of an otherwise empty row. Lolly and her aunt were standing up pushing on me.

"What's going on?!" I asked.

"Fire!" Lolly's aunt said.

I looked around. By that time most of the people downstairs were outside except for about 30 or 40 who were lying where they had been knocked down; they were moaning and groaning and yelling in urdu.

The people in the balcony were up at the top and spewing out into the mezzanine. I smelled no smoke and saw no fire. I knew there were two circular marble staircases out in the upper mezzanine, and two small staircases at the front of the balcony that led down to the area below.

I said, "Sit down!"

We sat. When all was clear in--say--two or three minutes, I stood up and we walked out, down the left hand side of a beautiful circular marble staircase, past three women and one man lying there groaning. There were other on the other side of the staircase, and two women lying down in the lower mezzanine.

It was a temptation to stop and help, and had I been alone that's what I would have done, but I said, "Keep going!"

Outside a minute later on a cool winter's night, Lolly's aunt, who spoke urdu, told me that someone had seen that the screen was on fire. We stood there as an ambulance roared up and medical people went in and tended to the fallen, some of whom were carried out on stretchers.

And then?

And then--of all things!--since the fire on the screen, which had been caused by some kind of minor electrical short, was out, they said we could go back in.

In went the crowd, calm as could be.

But me?

By then I was about as shook up as I have ever been in my life. I looked at the two of them and said, "What do you say we go home?" They nodded their heads. We flagged down a gharry--a horse and carriage--and rode home, where all three of us had a stiff scotch.

Odd. During the emergency I was as cool as a cucumber, but afterward, when 1100 other people calmly strolled back into the theater I wasn't worth two hoots in Hell. :-)


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Maybe that is why I sit in the back row by a door on the outside seat . I can get out whenever I want.
I am agoraphobic or crazy, whichever. But I won't get trapped in a building.


Bernice Winandy 3 years, 11 months ago

One needs to be careful about typos.

When it comes to the overall safety of the many, government should step in. Building codes are good. One should have the right to expect a public place to be safe. One should not have to depend on one's own inspection. I wonder what Bashas, Safeway or Wal-Mart would say if I or some other individual insisted upon a personal safety inspection. Furthermore, can an untrained individual know what to look for. My brother is a retired fire man and often he would tell me about certain "dangers" he saw when we dined out together. He also told me where to sit in order to be in the best position in case of a fire outbreak.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"Maybe that is why I sit in the back row by a door on the outside seat."

I tend to do the same thing. You can ask anyone who's ever seen me at a meeting where I was sitting. Sometimes I'll pull up an extra chair and stick it at the end of a long table. I know why I do it too. That fire in that theater made me think.

Right, Bernice! Want to know something about safety? Talk to a fireman. I shared some space in my training office with a fire safety guy who was on Okinawa doing a survey of some kind. He was a fireman. He taught me a lot! Even about my house.

In the original article that I read about all this I could hardly believe that the law in Brazil would ever allow a single exit. Four or five is what you need.

Listen, I've seen some gruesome pictures over the course of my life, and I learned early.

We moved to CT in December, 1943, and just six months later one of the worse fires in the nation happen just 40 miles away in Hartford when the Barnum and Bailey tent went up in flames. It killed 170 people and burned or injured another 700.

Want to know why? The power went out! The power is often the first thing that goes in a fire. People find themselves in a dark room, unable to see.

Come to my house some night and switch off the power. Instantly, twelve separate lights come on, each one separate from the others. Instantly! There are lights in every room, one at the top and bottom of the stairs, one lighting each of the three doors, one everywhere. They are twelve separate nickle metal hydride powered LED flashlights that are plugged in and pointed where I want light. If you need one you can reach down and grab it. They sit plugged into the outlets all the time and are always charged. They will run for 16 hours if need be. If you want, you can switch one or more of them to a night light position where they are on, but at a lower level. I do that with two of them, and I have six other nightlights.

They don't cost much. You can get them at Walmart, and you're crazy if your house isn't equipped with them.

You know another thing I watch? Whenever we used to get on public transport of any kind I always made sure we were close to a door. And I will NOT ride in a bus or a subway where people are standing. Too crowded; should not be allowed. I once saw the result of a bus fire. It was the worst thing I have ever seen--a pile of dead bodies stacked four or five deep at the front door of a bus, all hanging down because of the slope of the stairs. It was obvious what had happened. Someone tripped and someone jumped on and tried to climb over, crushing the one below and being crushed by the next da---ed fool who piled on. All the heads where burned black, nothing but black skulls.


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