Entrance of the Ycuá Bolaños V supermarket on August 1, 2006, two years after the fire. Banners of protest demanding justice for the victims hang on the sides of the building.
|Date||August 1, 2004|
|Time||11:25 UTC-4 (15:25 UTC)|
The Ycuá Bolaños supermarket fire was a disastrous fire that occurred on August 1, 2004 in Asunción, Paraguay. After the fire broke out, exits were locked to prevent people from stealing merchandise. The building also lacked adequate fire protection systems. Nearly 400 people were killed and more than 500 were injured. The president of the supermarket company, as well as various employees, were later sentenced to prison terms for their actions during the fire.
A structure fire is a fire involving the structural components of various types of residential, commercial or industrial buildings, such as barn fires. Residential buildings range from single-family detached homes and townhouses to apartments and tower blocks, or various commercial buildings ranging from offices to shopping malls. This is in contrast to "room and contents" fires, chimney fires, vehicle fires, wildfires or other outdoor fires.
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay. The city is located on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the River Pilcomayo, on the South American continent. The Paraguay River and the Bay of Asunción in the northwest separate the city from the Occidental Region of Paraguay and Argentina in the south part of the city. The rest of the city is surrounded by the Central Department.
Paraguay, officially the Republic of Paraguay, is a country of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Although it is one of only two landlocked countries in South America, the country has coasts, beaches and ports on the Paraguay and Paraná rivers that give exit to the Atlantic Ocean through the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica.
The Ycuá Bolaños V supermarket, located in the capital city of Asunción, Paraguay, opened on December 7, 2001. The two-story building consisted of an underground parking garage on the lower level and a sales area and food court on the second story. Two separate mezzanines contained administrative offices and an extension of the food court.
A food court is generally an indoor plaza or common area within a facility that is contiguous with the counters of multiple food vendors and provides a common area for self-serve dinner.
A mezzanine is, strictly speaking, an intermediate floor in a building which is partly open to the double-height ceilinged floor below, or which does not extend over the whole floorspace of the building. However, the term is often used loosely for the floor above the ground floor, especially where a very high original ground floor has been split horizontally into two floors.
According to the defense attorney of the building's owner, the bakery and food court kitchen were not properly ventilated, which would cause smoke and gas to accumulate in the building.The structure also lacked a fire sprinkler system and the smoke detectors did not work.
A fire sprinkler system is an active fire protection method, consisting of a water supply system, providing adequate pressure and flowrate to a water distribution piping system, onto which fire sprinklers are connected. Although historically only used in factories and large commercial buildings, systems for homes and small buildings are now available at a cost-effective price. Fire sprinkler systems are extensively used worldwide, with over 40 million sprinkler heads fitted each year. In buildings completely protected by fire sprinkler systems, over 96% of fires were controlled by fire sprinklers alone.
A smoke detector is a device that senses smoke, typically as an indicator of fire. Commercial security devices issue a signal to a fire alarm control panel as part of a fire alarm system, while household smoke detectors, also known as smoke alarms, generally issue a local audible or visual alarm from the detector itself.
The fire broke out on August 1, 2004, with two explosions on the first floor. The fire burned for seven hours before firefighters were able to extinguish it. The final death toll was 396, and more than 500 injured.[ citation needed ] The cause was believed to be a faulty barbecue chimney that leaked hot flammable gases into the ceiling, which ignited.[ citation needed ]
An explosion is a rapid increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner, usually with the generation of high temperatures and the release of gases. Supersonic explosions created by high explosives are known as detonations and travel via supersonic shock waves. Subsonic explosions are created by low explosives through a slower burning process known as deflagration.
Barbecue or barbeque is a cooking method, a style of food, and a name for a meal or gathering at which this style of food is cooked and served.
Several survivors of the fire and volunteer firefighters alleged that, when the fire broke out, doors within the complex were deliberately closed under the direction of the owners, Juan Pío Paiva and his son, Víctor Daniel, trapping people inside, in order to prevent people from fleeing with merchandise without paying for it. The management of the shopping center denied the charge.Paiva, his son and a security guard surrendered to the police and were formally charged.
A major issue was that the complex lacked emergency exits and efficient fire protection systems. The architect of the complex and several municipal public servants responsible for the overseeing of commercial buildings were prosecuted as well.[ citation needed ]
On December 5, 2006, Juan Pío Paiva, Víctor Daniel Paiva and the security guard were convicted of involuntary manslaughter with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The prosecution however was seeking a 25-years-in-prison term.[ citation needed ] As the verdict was read, angry survivors and family members of the deceased started a violent demonstration inside the court room, which later spread onto the streets of Asunción. The prosecution demanded a retrial.
|Wikinews has related news: Sentences handed down over Paraguay's worst fire|
On February 2, 2008, a new court ruled that the trio committed negligent homicide. Juan Pío Paiva, president of the company, received a sentence of 12 years in prison. His son Víctor Daniel Paiva, present at the start of the fire, was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Security guard Daniel Areco, who closed the doors, was condemned to 5 years in prison. Additionally, shareholder Humberto Casaccia, also present at the start of the fire, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for endangering people in the work place.Architect Bernardo Ismachowiez, who both designed and built the complex, spent two years in house arrest for "dangerous activities in construction".
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