Guards Blocked Exit in Mexico City Disco Fire

ByABC News
October 21, 2000, 11:10 AM

M E X I C O   C I T Y, Oct. 22 -- With flames and smoke filling a glitzy MexicoCity nightclub, terrified patrons fled for the sole exit only tofind the clubs guards barring the way to some, demanding they first pay theirbills, survivors said.

The blaze killed 20 people, and injured twodozen more.

The Lobohombo club was still packed at 5 a.m. when the blazestarted Friday. Please! Its burning! Open the door! SaraFalcon said she and others pleaded to the guards who stopped themasking for tickets proving theyd paid.

Everyone was shouting, she told TV Azteca news, wiping awaytears. Many people were on fire, yelling and throwing themselveson the floor. Others were yelling, Open the door because peopleare burning!

Witnesses said patrons panicked when smoke began filling thedisco, and began scrambling to escape out the clubs only exit. Thebuilding had no emergency exits, authorities said. It took 90minutes to put out the blaze.

The Lobohombo with its mirrored facade, was one of the bestknown nightclubs in North Americas largest city. Gloria Estefanheld a party there in August and salsa superstar Willie Colon hadperformed there.

Short Circuit to Blame?

Hours after the tragedy, hundreds milled outside the charredbuilding, its mirrors shattered and blackened with smoke. Itstrademark, a sign featuring the face of a cartoon dog, was gone.

Police said a short circuit in the sound booth may have sparkedthe blaze, but firefighters said witnesses reported hearing severalexplosions. Officials put the death toll at 20.

Falcons aunt, Lorena Falcon Perez, said her 16-year-olddaughter was trapped in the flames, and later carried out of thebuilding as chunks of burning wood fell to the ground. She sufferedthird-degree burns and was in critical condition at a localhospital.

When the doctors told me about my daughter, I fainted,Falcon Perez said. Its not right what those [owners of thedisco] did. A place that has events like this should at least besafe.