Inspectors believe the blaze began when a band's small pyrotechnics show ignited foam sound insulating material on the ceiling, releasing a putrid haze that caused scores of university students to choke to death.
Most victims died from smoke inhalation rather than burns in what appeared to be the world's deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade.
Survivors and the police inspector Marcelo Arigony said security guards briefly tried to block people from exiting the club. Brazilian bars routinely make patrons pay their entire tab at the end of the night before they are allowed to leave.
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