Bucharest, Colectiv Club, 30.10.2015 – A very sad day to remember
The Colectiv nightclub fire was a deadly fire in Bucharest, Romania, on October 30, 2015, which killed 32 people and wounded 179 The fire, the worst such incident in Romania in the last 20 years, occurred during a free concert performed by the heavy metal band Goodbye to Gravity to celebrate the release of their new album Mantras of War
The band’s pyrotechnics, consisting of sparkler firework candles, ignited the club’s flammable polyurethane acoustic foam, and the fire spread rapidly. Most of the victims were poisoned by toxins released from the burning foam. Protests over the deaths led to the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his government.
In advance of the concert, the band announced that they would be including customised lighting, “pyrotechnic effects” and scenic elements brought in to “give life to the science fiction artwork” of the new album. The band’s vocalist Andrei Găluț, bassist Alex Pascu and drummer Bogdan Lavinius were hospitalised with injuries. Guitarists Vlad Țelea and Mihai Alexandru died.
The club’s main shareholder and co-founder, Alin George Anastasescu, together with two other associates, Costin Mincu and Paul Cătălin Gancea, were arrested on November 2 for negligent homicide, negligent bodily harm and negligent destruction. The club opened in May 2013 on the location of the previous Pionierul factory, at Tăbăcarilor Street 7 in Sector 4 of Bucharest, within 1 km of the Palace of the Parliament.
About an hour before midnight the club was engulfed in flames because of a spark set off by pyrotechnics. Some witnesses said there was an explosion, but this was disputed and later dismissed by other sources. A pillar caught fire, and the flames spread immediately to the ceiling which collapsed. The pillars were dressed in sound insulating foam and one of them ignited soon after the pyrotechnics started. Media reported that club-goers initially thought the flames were part of the show and did not immediately react When the ceiling caught fire, the approximately 300 to 500 people in the club panicked and rushed to the only working exit door at the venue, creating a stampede. The 2-part door was only half opened, thus too narrow, so people climbed on top of each other in order to get out. Many of the casualties suffered from leg injuries after being trampled A witness said terrified concert-goers had to break down the other half of the door to escape, but many people had already suffered burns or were in respiratory distress. People also smashed windows in order to escape.
The first who arrived on the scene were nurses and doctors from nearby Bucur Maternity, on duty that Friday night. They heard the screams of the wounded and descended to the street in robes and slippers to provide first aid. The first 112 call came at 10:32 p.m., and the first emergency service arrived 11 minutes after the call. The State Secretary at the Ministry of Health Raed Arafat and deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea arrived at the scene late in the night, baffled and totally unprepared for what they were about to witness.
Survivors were rushed to hospitals in ambulances and some were driven by neighbours, bypassers and even a few taxis. Others were treated at a field hospital set up at the scene. A code red was declared, with off-duty doctors and nurses at nearby hospitals being called in to help deal with the emergency. The unconscious were resuscitated at the headlights from fire trucks. Intervention crews worked with 75 special vehicles of the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations, including 11 with water and foam and 57 SMURD trucks and ambulances. Around 500 emergency services personnel were mobilised – firefighters, gendarmes, police and medical crews. The nearby residents housed concert-goers with less serious injuries overnight.