It happened here:
A small town in Rio Grande do Sul, a state in Southern Brazil that share borders with Argentina and Uruguay.
On Saturday night, the 26th of January Some two thousand teenagers, mostly between the ages of sixteen and twenty. were packed into a popular nightclub call Kiss, a venue designed to hold no more than one thousand.
One of the members of the band on the stage ignited a flare as part of the show.
The flare caused the ceiling of the club to catch fire.
And, within moments, the place filled with smoke.
Bodies are still being counted, but the lowest estimate of fatalities now stands at 231, placing the disaster as the second largest of its type in Brazilian history. (The first being a circus fire, Rio de Janeiro, in 1961, which claimed 501 lives.)
This being an age of smart phones the coverage of the event was unprecedented.
And the photos are heartbreaking.
Dilma Roussef, the nation’s president, in Chile on a visit of state, promptly cancelled her plans and returned home. She was unable to hold back tears in the interview she gave to the press.
The fire inspection certificate for the location was long expired.
One of the double exit doors was locked shut.
And there is a custom, in the country, for people to run a tab which they pay upon leaving.
So many of the people who were trying to escape, and hadn’t settled their accounts before they did, were simply held back until it was too late.
The cause of death, in the majority of cases, was smoke inhalation.
It’s easy to blame the authorities in Brazil – and they will be blamed - of that you can be sure.
But the sad truth of the matter is that this is the kind of thing that can occur anywhere – and has.
Several of the worst fires around the world in recent decades have been at nightclubs.
A fire killed 492 people at Boston's Coconut Grove club in 1942, the deadliest nightclub blaze in U.S. history.
-In 1977, 165 people perished and more than 200 were injured when the Beverly Hills Supper Club in
Southgate, Kentucky, which touted itself as the Showplace of the Nation, burned to the ground.
A fire at the Ozone Disco Pub in 1996 in Quezon City, Philippines, killed 162 people, many of them
students celebrating the end of the school year.
A welding accident reportedly set off a Dec. 25, 2000, fire at a club in Luoyang, China, killing 309.
A nightclub fire in Rhode Island in 2003 killed 100 people after pyrotechnics used as a stage prop by the rock band Great White set ablaze cheap soundproofing foam on the walls and ceiling. The same thing that happened on Saturday night at Kiss.
At least 194 people died at an overcrowded working-class nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2004.
And a blaze at the Lame Horse Nightclub in Perm, Russia, broke out on Dec. 5, 2009, when another indoor fireworks display ignited a plastic ceiling decorated with branches, killing 152.
My heart goes out, tonight, to the hundreds of parents in that one little Brazilian town who are mourning the deaths of their sons and daughters. There is no experience in life that is worse than losing a child.
I ask all of you who are reading this to remember those grief-stricken parents in your thoughts.