DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Aat the American Airlines Center featuring popular R&B singer Rihanna ended early Friday night after a small fire.
According to a group of CBS 11 employees who attended the concert, it appeared the fire started from pyrotechnics that were part of the show. Dallas Fire Rescue confirmed Saturday that embers from a pyrotechnics display landed on a chair, igniting it.
The fire was out before fire fighters arrived, officials said. There were no injuries and no citations issued.
The AAC was not evacuated immediately, but some people rushed the exits, causing a backup.
“It was a little more frantic than it needed to be because we were in a safer location than people in the front rows, but it looked like it was going to get contained. It was just a lot of chaos,” concertgoer Tracey Borders said.
Dallas Fire Rescue Captain Johnny Bates says a chair caught on fire. “We were called in to assist. One of our engine crews did enter the building but crew members with the AAC or concert put out the initial fire.” The fire was knocked out quickly. “Everything is under control and there are no injuries,” Bates added.
The concert ended early, frustrating fans who were already upset that Rihanna came out more than an hour late.
“Initially, I thought someone was up in the rafters and would put it out with a fire extinguisher, and the show would go on,” Larry Lilley said. “But, no one ever put it out and it kept growing. I was freaking out the whole time, wondering why there wasn’t a fire extinguisher up there.”
Lilley was among those in the crowd. He shot the scene as it unfolded. Lilley said the fire burned for about three minutes and smoke filled the American Airlines Center. All the while, fans reported no one from the AAC gave them guidance as they searched for direction.
“Actually, we started to run out, but a guy asked us to go back to our seats, and said everything was going to be fine,” Jennifer Kirksey said. “My girlfriend was wigging out, she was thinking there was going to be a stampede, so we just walked right past him.”
“I’d say about three minutes after they put out the fire, people were sitting around wondering if they were still going to move forward with the concert. Then finaly they made the announcement that the concert was cancelled,” Lilley said.
Kristen Villemez, 19, came to the concert with her mother, who was celebrating her birthday. “We were really looking forward to this. Now we’re wondering if our money is going to be refunded in any way.”
Many concertgoers were fans of the singer who had tickets to her previous Dallas concert, which she canceled.
Elvia Vigil is one of those fans. She told CBS 11’s Sharrie Williams that she and her friends purchased tickets to last year’s show. Now they finally attended the concert, it was cancelled prematurely because of the fire, leaving them disappointed. “We waited so long to see her and now this. This is not how we expected the show to go. She was late getting here and we didn’t even get a proper ending.”