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Brazil nightclub fire probe points to band's flare

SANTA MARIA, Brazil The lead police investigator into a nightclub fire that killed 234 people in southern Brazil says the music group playing at the time lit a flare designed for outdoor use that set the club's ceiling on fire.

Police inspector Marcelo Arigony said in a news conference Tuesday that "the flare was for outdoor use only and the people who lit them know that."

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He said the investigation will take 20 days and then state prosecutors will determine whether to file charges in the early Sunday fire. Preliminary information had shown that the Kiss nightclub had no sprinklers and no emergency exits.

Arigony said "any child could have seen that this establishment should not have been open."

Earlier Tuesday, a state forensics department raised the death toll from a nightclub fire in Brazil to 234 people.

Local authorities had said 231 people died in the blaze, but the Rio Grande do Sul state raised the number Tuesday to account for three additional victims whose names didn't appear on the original list.

One of the victims had originally been confused with another person with a similar name. Another was identified early Sunday but didn't appear on a previous list.

The blaze broke out early Sunday at a packed nightclub in Santa Maria, a college town of about 260,000 in southern Brazil.

Most of the victims died from smoke inhalation. More than 122 injured people remain hospitalized.

The repercussions of the fire widened Tuesday as mayors around the country cracked down on such venues in their own cities and investigators searched two other nightspots owned by a partner in the club that caught ablaze.

The government of the country's biggest city, Sao Paulo, promised tougher security regulations for nightclubs and other places where many people gather. President Dilma Rousseff promised Monday that "we have the responsibility to make sure this never is repeated." Mayors in other cities pledged to follow suit, especially with the upcoming start of Carnival, which floods nightclubs with celebratory crowds.

Since the fire, a Rio de Janeiro consumer complaint hotline has received more than 60 calls denouncing hazardous conditions at night spots, theaters, supermarkets, schools, hospitals and shopping malls around the state. Blocked emergency exits and non-existent fire alarms and extinguishers top the list of most common complaints.

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