Pulse club exit ‘blocked’ weeks before Orlando shooting, fire report reveals
An exit at the Pulse gay club in Orlando was closed off weeks prior to the shooting.
49 people died and more than 50 were injured in the horrific massacre earlier this month, when a gunman opened fire inside the Orlando club.
Around 300 people were thought to be in the club at the time, many of whom were able to escape.
However, the Orlando Sentinel has reported that just three weeks before the shooting, an inspection found that at least one of the club’s six exits was blocked by a “soda machine”.
According to Orlando Fire Department records, the inspection on May 21 found that exits had been blocked off, but at the time the club’s exits were judged to be adequate to accommodate the club’s capacity.
In the report, Lt Brian Hardiman wrote “doors are inoperable” in the comments section.
Fire Marshal Tammy Hughes said she saw photos of the machine blocking an exit, but it is unclear whether the door was still blocked the night of the shooting.
She added staff “will have to answer some tough questions.” It is unclear if any exits were still blocked the night of the shooting.
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No violations were recorded during the club’s last full fire inspections in January.
The club is currently still cordoned off by the FBI – but the owners have vowed to re-open the venue for the local LGBT community.
Barbara Poma, the club’s owner, has stressed the need to keep the “heartbeat and spirit” of Pulse alive.
Ms Poma said: “We need to show we are strong, that Pulse continues and that we appreciate all the help this community has shown us.
“We have all come through an extraordinary and terrible ordeal, and we know that we have to keep moving forward. My commitment is to keep Pulse alive, and this is a great way to start just that.”