The band Gurizada Fandangueira performed about once a month at Kiss nightclub in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, where a fire early Sunday morning resulted in the deaths of 233 people attending a party for the local university’s department of agronomy. One of the band members is reported dead in the fire that officials say was started after the band’s singer set off an onstage pyrotechnic display that ignited foam acoustic insulation on the ceiling.
The effects were a routine part of the band’s act, accompanying their performances of upbeat Brazilian country pop music punctuated by accordion and percussion.
“[The group] demonstrates…a great deal of innovation in the stage set up, visual effects and pyrotechnics, which makes all the difference in the unique identity of the band,” reads a quote from the group’s Facebook profile.
Set off by remote control, sparkler columns placed at the front of the stage rose above the bandmembers’ heads at the climax of their set. Usually they lasted only seconds, according to Eliel de Lima, the band’s drummer, who spoke to Globo’s G1 news after the tragedy.
De Lima told G1 that the band’s accordian player, Danilo Jaques, died in the fire when he fell behind his bandmates as they escaped from the burning club.
Valerson Wotrich, singer for the show’s opening band, told G1 that two of its own members have not been found.
“It all started because they were using pyrotechnics in a closed room,” Colonel Guido de Melo, the Fire Chief of Brazil’s Rio do Sul state, told Argentina’s Clarín newspaper. “The use of equipment that was not permitted caused the tragedy.” He said the club’s license, which permitted a legal capacity of 2000, had expired.
Late Sunday afternoon, authorities began releasing the names of the 120 young men and 113 young women who died in the fire.