Clerkenwell cinema fire

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The Clerkenwell cinema fire occurred in the Dream City adult cinema (also known as the 'New City Cinema' [1]) on St John Street, near Smithfield, London, United Kingdom, on 26 February 1994. Due to its pornographic subject matter, and the strict licensing regulations in London at the time, the cinema was operating illegally, and thus was not subject to fire inspections as other legal entertainment venues were. [2]

The fire itself was caused by arson when a deaf, homeless man called David Lauwers had a losing fight with a doorman over a disagreement over having to pay the entry fee again, having earlier left the club. After being ejected from the cinema, Lauwers returned with a can of petrol and set fire to the entrance area. [3] The fire took hold rapidly, trapping most of the staff and patrons within. Eight men died at the scene, seven from smoke inhalation and one from injuries sustained from jumping from a high window in the building, and there were three further fatalities in the following months in hospital, [4] as well as thirteen injuries. On hearing of the gravity of the situation Lauwers handed himself in to Walthamstow police station,[5] and was later given a life sentence on three sample charges of manslaughter. [6]


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