The disco held in a Macedonian community center in Gothenburg was intended to provide some Halloween fun for the youth of the city’s immigrant communities. However, this innocent evening of music and dancing turned into a nightmare as fire engulfed the premises, leaving over half the attendees dead or injured.
The center’s upstairs dance hall was licensed to hold 150 people, but there was little chance of stopping the revelers piling in and as many as 400 were present by 23.00. Shortly after 23.30 the smell of smoke began to drift over the dance floor, but most of the partygoers thought this was coming from a smoke machine. Then a DJ noticed flames and issued a warning to the crowd, but this too was dismissed by many as a prank. The large group of young adults were there to party and little could distract them. By the time the fire took hold on one of only two stairwells that could facilitate their escape, it was too late. The noise was so great that, when a call was finally made to the emergency services, the operator had difficulty in hearing the address. That said, once called, the fire brigade arrived on the scene quickly and were well prepared. The firefighters were greeted by a panic-stricken scene – people were hurling themselves out of windows and rushing to escape out of one narrow doorway.
For some time the authorities refused to disclose what many had suspected – that the fire was the result of arson. Rumor was rife and some in the immigrant community pointed the finger of blame at Swedish Neo-Nazis. Tensions ran high, until four young Iranians were found to have started the blaze in an idiotic and deadly game of dare.
When was the Gothenburg Discotheque Fire: October 29 1998
Where was the Gothenburg Discotheque Fire: Hisingen Island, Gothenburg, Sweden
What was the Gothenburg Discotheque Fire death toll: 63 dead and more than 200 injured.
You should know: ln the days after the arson attack, leaflets began to appear calling for revenge against the perceived Swedish perpetrators. One particularly unsavory handout called for 60 Swedes to be killed to avenge the loss. Physical and emotional scars have taken time to heal. A beautifully crafted granite and gold memorial was unveiled ten years after the tragedy.