Published April 20, 2008
QUITO, Ecuador – Flames started by fireworks swept through a nightclub in Ecuador's capital on Saturday, killing at least 14 people who were unable to escape through the club's padlocked doors, a fire official said. Sixteen people were injured.
About 300 people were attending an afternoon event at the "Factory" club in southern Quito when someone lit fireworks, sending sparks upward that ignited material on the ceiling, Quito Fire Chief Jaime Benalcazar told The Associated Press.
"The exit doors were closed and padlocked," he said. People were trapped inside.
After controlling the blaze, officials removed 14 "completely burned" bodies from the club, Benalcazar said. Some 16 others were injured — four seriously and 12 with minor burns, he said.
Raul Carrera, who worked with the club's sound system, managed to escape with others through the club's bathrooms.
"We couldn't save anyone because everything was steam and thick smoke. It was really hot," Carrera said.
He said he lost one of his friends but couldn't look for him because "everything started falling ... there wasn't time for anything."
"There were people with extinguishers but they weren't able to put out the flames," he said.
Inspectors were investigating whether proper security measures had been in place.
The event had been a music awards ceremony.