SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Families and friends in Brazil have begun holding funerals for the more than 230 people who were trapped and killed in a massive nightclub fire this weekend. And unfortunately this isn't the first time we've heard a story like this one.
A busy night at a Brazilian nightclub quickly turned into a nightmare early Sunday morning, after a band's fireworks display caused a massive fire. More than 230 people suffocated or were trampled as crowds scrambled to escape. The tragedy is eerily similar to the deadly fire at "The Station" nightclub in Rhode Island, that killed 100 people nearly ten years ago.
The US Fire Administration recommends families have an escape plan in case of an emergency at home. But it's even more important to be alert in unfamiliar environments.
"I try to pay close attention where I'm at and watch the surroundings and the people I'm around. Try to keep an eye where the exits are for safety reasons. Things can happen quickly," said Richard Facchini of Springfield.
Brazilian investigators said bouncers had originally stopped people from escaping because they thought they were running out without paying their tabs. A Springfield man told 22News even if an alarm seems false, he never brushes it off.
"If an alarm is going off there's something going on somewhere. Sometimes it's a trick alarm but for the most part you take it serious," said Robert Swift of Springfield.
The worst thing you can do in an emergency situation is panic. One Monson man recalled the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston in the '40s. Nearly 500 people were killed when crowds jammed the exit.
"Don't panic, that's the main thing. The big fire in Boston, if people had only stepped back five feet they could have opened the door. But nobody wanted to step back the five feet so everyone perished," said David Mathews of Monson.
And it was the same devastating outcome in Brazil this weekend; the nightclub's sole exit blocked to the frantic crowds.
In the city of Springfield, bars and nightclubs must remove all combustible materials and have all the exits unobstructed or they risk losing their entertainment licenses.