Faulty pyrotechnics may have sparked the fast-spreading blaze at a performance packed with local university students.
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Police in Santa Maria said Monday they’ve made three arrests and are seeking a fourth person in connection with a nightclub fire that killed 233 people.
Inspector Ranolfo Vieira Junior said the arrests are for investigative purposes. He said the detentions have five-day limits. A preliminary investigation indicated that a band’s pyrotechnics show ignited the blaze. One band member died in the blaze.
The Zero Hora newspaper quoted lawyer Jader Marques as saying his client Elissandro Spohr, a co-owner of the club, was arrested. The paper also said two band members were arrested.
Partygoers fleeing the nightclub were briefly delayed by security guards routinely charged with ensuring that bar tabs are paid, police said.
Firefighters arriving minutes later were hampered by the pile of bodies blocking the lone exit.
“It was terrible inside — it was like one of those films of the Holocaust, bodies piled atop one another,” police inspector Sandro Meinerz said. “We had to use trucks to remove them. It took about six hours to take the bodies away.”
More than 100 others were injured when the fire broke out at 3 a.m. Sunday at the Kiss nightclub Santa Maria, Brazil, at the southern tip of the country near the borders with Argentina and Uruguay.
On Monday, hundreds of caskets were lined up in a nearby gymnasium. The first funerals were schedule for later in the day.
The club was hosting an event for a local university, and most of the attendees were students of that school, the Federal University of Santa Maria in the southern state Rio Grande do Sul.