Kiss, Cocoanut Grove & More Deadly Nightclub Fires (Photos)

A popular Brazilian nightclub went up in flames this weekend, killing more than 200 people. See more tragic nightclub fires.

Agencia RBS/AP

Agencia RBS/AP

Brazil is mourning the 231 people tragically killed in a nightclub fire in Santa Maria this weekend. Since 2000, four notable nightclub blazes have killed more than 750 people. But these fires aren’t just a recent phenomenon; one of the earliest recorded incidents took place in 1929 in Detroit, Michigan, and the most lethal occurred in 1942 in Boston. Here is a roundup of some of the deadliest nightclub fires in history.

Germano Roratto/AFP/Getty

Kiss, Santa Maria, Brazil

Already one of the most destructive nightclub fires recorded, the blaze that tore through Brazilian club Kiss over the weekend has so far resulted in the deaths of 231 people —some by smoke inhalation and others trampled in the mad rush for the exits. Police say a band’s pyrotechnic show started the inferno in the Santa Maria club, and they have currently arrested three people in connection with the blaze.


Cocoanut Grove, Boston

Before fire broke out in November 1942, Cocoanut Grove was one of Boston’s most popular nightclubs. But when a young man accidently dropped a match on the floor of a dimly lit room, a flame started that killed nearly 500 people. The deadliest nightclub fire on record shocked the nation so much that it briefly displaced World War II on the front pages and led to reforms of the U.S. national safety standards.


Beverly Hills Supper Club, Kentucky

In 1977 The Beverly Hills Supper Club in Kentucky became the most lethal nightclub fire since the Cocoanut Grove tragedy more than 30 years earlier. Investigators later found that overcrowding, bad wiring, and poorly placed fire escapes were the cause of the disaster and contributed to the 165-person death toll.

Charles Arrigo/AP

Happy Land, Bronx, New York

A young group of mostly Honduran descent gathered in the unlicensed Bronx club Happy Land in 1990 to celebrate Carnival. But they found themselves trapped after a jealous ex-boyfriend, Julio Gonzalez, spread gasoline around the site and set it on fire. Gonzalez was sentenced to 174 twenty-five year sentences, two sentences for each of the 87 people who died in the blaze.

Pat Roque/AP

Ozone Disco Club, Quezon City, Philippines

 The 1996 Ozone Disco Club fire claimed 162 lives and is now remembered as the worst fire in Philippine history. Eyewitnesses say sparks from the disc jockey’s spinner flew into the DJ’s booth, which ignited and quickly spread.

Roger Turesson/Pressens Bild, via AP

Gothenburg, Sweden

When a fire began at a 1998 Halloween party in Gothenburg, almost 400 people under the age of 25 were caught in the blaze. The fire started in a stairwell, according to reports, forcing some attendees to jump out of the club’s windows to the ground 16 feet below. In the end, 23 people were killed and more than 213 were injured.

Wang Song/Xinhua/AP

Luoyang, China

On Christmas Day in 2000, 309 people died in China after fire broke out in a Luoyang nightclub and roared for more than three hours. The fire killed hundreds of partygoers on the ground floor and construction workers on the second and third floors who were trapped inside the building.

Robert E. Klein/AP

The Station, West Warwick, Rhode Island

In 2003, a pyrotechnics malfunction at a Rhode Island nightclub caused foam in its ceiling to ignite, killing 100 people in an accident the National Fire Protection Association calls “a disaster of historical proportion.”

Daniel Luna/AP

República Cromañón, Buenos Aires, Argentina

In 2004, República Cromañón became the worst fire in Argentina’s history, killing 194 people. After investigators discovered the Buenos Aires club had been granted a permit despite failing to adhere to the country’s fire safety standards, seven people were sentenced to prison.

Sakchai Lalit/AP

Santika, Bangkok, Thailand

Up to 1,000 people were inside Bangkok’s Santika club to celebrate New Year’s Eve in 2009 when a fire broke out shortly after midnight. More than 200 people were injured in the fire and tourists from Europe and America were among the 66 killed.

Misha Japaridze/AP

Lame Horse, Perm, Russia

In 2009 the worst fire in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union took place, starting after sparks from fireworks ignited the club’s ceiling and an overhanging tree. More than half of the 300 people inside perished in the flames.