On Saturday night, in Santa Maria, Brazil, at least 233 people went out to a nightclub for a good time and then never came home. That's the latest death toll from the tragic fire that ripped through this university city's Kiss nightclub. More than 100 people were injured. A band's pyrotechnics set off the blaze around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, according to multiple reports.
Now, according to USA Today, Santa Maria police have said they've arrested three people linked to the tragic fire and are looking for a fourth person. Those arrested reportedly include Elissandro Spohr, a co-owner of the club, along with two members of the band playing that night. One of the band's members died in the flames.
It's difficult to overstate what an awful scene this must have been. The club reportedly had only one exit, and police said security guards held up some of the fleeing club-goers; the guards' job usually involves seeing to it that customers pay their tabs for leaving. "It was terrible inside — it was like one of those films of the Holocaust, bodies piled atop one another," police inspector Sandro Meinerz is quoted as saying. "We had to use trucks to remove them. It took about six hours to take the bodies away."
The tragedy is also a reminder of past horrors at concerts. In 2003, the Station nightclub in Rhode Island caught on fire during a show by glam-metal band Great White, killing 100 people. Hundreds have also died in recent years during nightclub fires in China, Argentina, and Russia.
Deaths due to violent weather, mass panics, or other sad incidents have also occurred in and around music festivals in recent years. Still, while it's impossible to grade tragedies on a scale, the sheer number of people affected by the Kiss nightclub fire makes it especially heartbreaking.