Brazil nightclub fire: What happened?

Brazil has declared three days of national mourning after 231 people were killed in the deadliest fire the country has seen in five decades.

The blaze at Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria reportedly started after a member of a band used pyrotechnics on stage.

Here is what we know so far about what happened.

Kiss nightclub, about 02:15 local time, Sunday 27 January
Kiss nightclub graphic
  1. Stage: Sparks from a pyrotechnic device, used by member of a band performing on the club's stage, caused soundproofing foam in the ceiling to catch fire, releasing toxic smoke. A band member later told local radio that a fire extinguisher handed to the band did not work.
  2. Main club: As the fire got out of control, hundreds of mostly student revellers started to flee towards what they thought were the club's exits. Eyewitnesses later said many club-goers appeared to mistake doors leading to the toilets for the exit.
  3. Toilets: Many of those who had entered the toilets were overcome by fumes. Firefighters later found dozens of bodies in the bathrooms.
  4. Entrance/exit: According to survivors and police, a group of security guards briefly tried to block people from leaving the club, to ensure customers had paid their tab. However, other eyewitnesses later said that once the guards realised how serious the fire was, they tried to help people get out.
  5. Outside the club: A barrier outside the entrance also hindered people's escape. As the scale of the fire became clear, volunteers helped firefighters break through the club's wall in a bid to pull people free from the building.

Source: Eyewitnesses, BBC Brasil

More Latin America & Caribbean stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • TravelAround the world

    BBC Travel takes a look at the most striking images from the past seven days


  • BatteriesClick Watch

    More power to your phone - the lithium-ion batteries that could last twice as long

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.