Neglect, Errors to Blame in Brazil Fire

SANTA MARIA, Brazil (AP) -

There was no fire alarm. There were no sprinklers or fire escapes. And when a band member tried to put out a fire that had been started by pyrotechnics, the extinguisher didn’t work.

All the elements were in place for the tragedy at an arena early Sunday. The result was the world’s worst fire of its kind in more than a decade, with 231 people dead and this southern Brazilian college town in shock and mourning.

Funerals began on Monday, as reports continued to emerge about the accumulation of neglect and errors at the packed entertainment venue.

According to state safety codes here, gathering places should have one fire extinguisher every 1,500 square feet as well as multiple emergency exits. Limits on the number of people admitted are to be strictly respected. None of that appears to have happened.

Brazilian police said they detained three people in connection with the blaze, while the newspaper O Globo said that a fourth person had surrendered to police. Police Inspector Ranolfo Vieira Junior said the detentions were part of the ongoing police probe and those detained can be held for up to five days.

More than 100 people remained hospitalized for smoke, local officials said.

National Health Minister Alexandre Padilha cautioned that the death toll could worsen dramatically. Speaking to media in Santa Maria, he said that 75 of those injured were in critical condition and could die.