On August 1, 2004 a major fire broke out in the Ycuá Bolaños supermarket in Asunción, Paraguay. The three story building that housed the Ycuá Bolaños V supermarket, commercial complex, a restaurant, several offices and an underground parking lot caught fire that burned for seven hours and caused two secondary explosions on the first floor. Investigators concluded that the fire was caused by a faulty barbecue chimney that leaked flammable gasses into the ceiling where they ignited.
In total 394 people perished in the fire, and nearly 500 more were injured. According to survivors and some volunteers firefighters, the chief reason for high death toll were orders by the supermarket’s owners Juan Pío Paiva and his son Víctor Daniel to have the gates closed in order to prevent panicking shoppers from fleeing without paying for merchandise. The complex also lacked emergency exits and had inefficient fire protection systems.
Initially, Juan Pío Paiva, Víctor Daniel and a security guard denied the accusations but later surrendered to the police and were formally charged. The architect who designed the complex and several municipal public servants were charged as well.
On December 5, 2006 Juan Pío Paiva, Víctor Daniel Paiva and the security guard were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a conviction which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The verdict angered survivors and their family members who started a violent demonstration that spilled from the court room onto the streets of Asunción. The prosecution demanded a retrial which they got with the date set for February 2, 2008.
A new court ruled that the president, his son and the security guard committed negligent homicide and sentenced Juan Pío Paiva to 12 years, his son Víctor Daniel Paiva to 10 years and security guard Daniel Areco who closed the door to 5 years in prison. Shareholder Humberto Casaccia who was present when the fire broke out was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for endangering people in the work place.
Props to Best Gore member TheJewMinator for the video: