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Saturday, January 01, 2005

More on the República Cromagnon club fire in Buenos Aires that killed 175: What were they thinking?

This fire, that killed 175 and injured hundreds more (many of whom were children) started pretty much like the one at the Fine Line did. Except it was started by the audience instead of the band, Los Callejeros (which loosely translates from Spanish as The Streetwise Ones.) One report claimed the club was nearly 4 times its capacity when the incident occurred. Here's an excerpt from today's New York Times:

The use of unsanctioned fireworks has been a problem at prior performances of Los Callejeros. At a concert for an audience of about 5,000 at the Obras Sanitarias here in July, the lead singer, Pato Fontanet, had to stop the show twice because of the amount of fireworks being set off by fans, despite heavy control by security at the entrance. His sister and girlfriend were among the victims who perished at the nightclub.

"Callejeros is the band to whose concerts fans bring the largest amount of fireworks in Argentina," Martín Bizzio, the manager of the band, said in a television interview. "Controls are very strict, but a lot manages to get through anyhow. What you see in the shows is about 15 or 20 percent of what they try to smuggle in. The roof was 100 percent flammable, and that's how it happened."

Reports in the local news media said the owner of the República Cromagnon club, Omar Chaban, a well-known figure in Buenos Aires's active night scene, came out before the band went onstage, speaking to club patrons for 10 minutes and asking them not to light fireworks. But the audience only hissed in defiance, the reports said. He was detained by the police on Friday for questioning.

Read the full article here.