Protecting Yourself

Rhode Island Fire
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A nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island has killed 96 people. It started, witnesses say, when a pyrotechnics display, without a permit, went horribly wrong. The flames ignited a foam screen behind the stage where the band Great White was playing. The nightclub became fully engulfed within three minutes. Club officials say the band did not have permission to use the pyrotechnics. But the band's singer disagrees.

A survivor of the fire says anyone who could not get out of the club within 30 second didn't have a chance. And as 11 News found out, in a fire of this size and speed, how a person reacts could save their life.

The Colorado Springs Fire Marshall says he doesn't have the manpower to conduct routine inspections of all the clubs in town. So he relies on club owners to be responsible for their patrons. And for patrons to be responsible for themselves.

Fire Marshall Brett Lacey says "any given night if we were to have staff to go out and do night time inspections we could visit any number of clubs and find blocked or locked exits." Lacey says there's never been a nightclub fire or stampede in the Springs. But it doesn't hurt to be prepared, just in case.

Experts say that finding all the exits is the best way to protect yourself in case of an emergency. Another problem is overcrowding. If a place seems too crowded, fire officials say get out.

Luke Travins owns several establishments in the Springs. He says his clubs follow occupancy limits, "Frequently we'll start a line at the door and say two out before one goes in just because we want to thin out the crowd."

Ultimately, experts say, it's the patrons responsibility to get themselves out of an emergency.