Nearly 30 fatalities have been confirmed after a fire broke out at the Swanson Center.
Shortly after 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 27, an explosive fire erupted in the theater, setting off fire alarms and throwing people inside the building into a panic. With blaring alarms ringing through the hallways and smoke filling the air, the atmosphere was in disarray.
“I need a Maui!” screamed one victim as the injuries from the explosion were too painful and in dire need of something to relieve the hurt.
Nurses and first responders carried victims out on stretchers and even lifting them up in their arms to secure them to safety.
“Have you seen my daughter?” asked one mother named Maggie in a frantic cry. “Her name is Calliope.”
The explosion left people missing and disoriented. The thick smoke caused people to be separated and lost. Not only were children missing, but also a dog.
“Have you seen my dog, Rover?” continually cried one owner.
At 11a.m. a news conference was held to address the public on any new information. Leading the conference was POI of Public Health for District 2 Gainesville Dave Palmer, along with Lynn Smith of Emergency Management and Chief Jim Andrews of Piedmont College Police Department.
As of now, 28 of the 108 fire victims are confirmed dead at the scene, 28 are in a very critical state and 29 suffered non critical injuries. Injuries range from dazed and minor burns to major burns and broken limbs. There were no further comments from the nurses and first responders at the scene.
“We’re here to assist in any way we possibly can,” said Lynn Smith.
A possible reason for the fire was assumed to be wood and cardboard used for the sets, but nothing has yet been confirmed as it is still early in the investigation. Although it is still unclear as to how the fire started, officials are working to make sure something like this never happens again.
“And I always think it’s wise to look around in neighborhoods and in communities to see what you have in your community that could be a threat,” said Jeffrey Adams. “To stop events like this from ever happening.”