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  84 Injured in Austria Disco Fire

The Associated Press
Saturday, Oct. 23, 1999; 2:45 a.m. EDT

VIENNA, Austria –– Fire swept through two discos filled with plastic foam packaging material, injuring a total of 84 people, Austrian media reported Saturday.

The larger blaze broke out late Friday at the Joy Disco in St. Agatha village near Bad Goisern, 120 miles southwest of Vienna, during a party in which supposedly fireproof particles of plastic foam were strewn ankle-deep on the dance floor, the Austria Press Agency reported.

Austrian radio quoted the Red Cross as saying that 74 people were injured, mostly from smoke inhalation. Of that number, four were treated at the scene and 70 were hospitalized.

Red Cross worker Ewald Ebner told APA that eight to 10 of the injuries were serious.

The radio said the blaze was apparently caused by a burning cigarette tossed onto the plastic foam, which the disco management had been told was fireproof.

The fire at the Joy Disco broke out two hours after another blaze erupted at the Tobago nightspot in Oberndorf, 10 miles north of Salzburg on the German border, APA said. Ten people were injured. The agency reported that the dance floor was also covered with plastic foam.

APA said none of the injuries at the Tobago fire were serious.

Reporting on the Joy Disco fire, Austrian radio said the 200 teen-agers and young adults stormed to the emergency exit, trampling several people. According to an Austrian radio reporter at the scene, the crowd jammed the main door because the emergency exit was blocked by slot machines.

"There was panic. People crawled on top of each other," one of the rescuers told Austrian radio without giving his name. "I tried to pull people out from underneath."

About 100 rescuers rushed to the scene. Austrian radio said it took firefighters two hours to bring the blaze under control. Fifteen physicians helped those suffering from burns and smoke poisoning.

Austrian radio said the party was organized to mark the takeover of the disco by a new manager.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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