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Police to charge 16 in deadly club fire

March 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM

SANTA MARIA, Brazil, March 23 (UPI) -- Brazilian police say they expect to file criminal charges against 16 people in connection with a nightclub fire that killed 241 people in January.

Authorities said the fire started in a club in the southern town of Santa Maria when a singer in a band held a firework close to the ceiling, which caught foam insulation on fire, spreading toxic fumes, the BBC reported Saturday.

The singer, the band's producer, the club's owners, as well as fire officials, will be charged with negligent homicide, police said Friday in a report on the incident.

Eyewitnesses told police the singer and a security guard tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher that failed to work.

Some witnesses said more than 1,000 people were in the building, which was licensed for fewer than 800, and that club owners initially tried to stop people from leaving.

The club had only one door and escape routes and lighting in the club were found to be inadequate.

All of the victims died from asphyxiation. More than 600 people were injured.

Brazil's Congress is working to revise safety regulations in advance of hosting the 2014 World Cup.

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