DJ slammed for setting off fireworks in city nightclub

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A SHERIFF has blasted a DJ who launched giant fireworks inside a city nightclub at Hogmanay.

He said the inferno sparked inside Edinburgh's Luna club came close to being a tragedy on the scale of the Russia nightclub disaster earlier this month, where at least 148 people died.

And he said setting off fireworks indoors was like handing a child a gun and being surprised when someone was injured.

Blazing debris rained on to the dancefloor from the ceiling of the club moments after the midnight bells between 2008 and 2009.

Some drink-fuelled clubbers danced around the falling flames chanting: "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire."

Four-hundred clubbers were still dancing when fire fighters eventually arrived.

Some suffered burns after the fire melted a plastic cargo net on the ceiling, sending a stream of flames across the 650-capacity room.

Rescuers said the outcome could have been "catastrophic" but for "sheer luck" preventing death on a massive scale.

DJ Jason Cortez claimed he was wrongly advised that the six-metre pyrotechnics were suitable for indoor use.

But Sheriff Graeme Warner slammed his "unbelievable attitude" yesterday , saying it was fortunate nobody had died.

Hardcore dance, house and trance DJ Cortez, 33, real name Jason Cormack from Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, was fined 1,000 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

He was due to stand trial but yesterday admitted responsibility for a catalogue of fire safety failures at the Picardy Place venue on 1 January.

He blamed a Glasgow supplier, insisting he was given fireworks with a range twice the height of those he ordered.

After watching a three-minute video of the aftermath of the firework blunder, Sheriff Warner told Cormack: "I'm sure you don't need me to tell you about a recent similar event in Russia where over 100 were killed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the comparison.

"It seems to me that to even consider setting off fireworks indoors was grossly risky and to say the least a bit foolhardy.

"You may as well have given a child a revolver handgun and then expressed astonishment when an injury occurs.

"Your attitude was almost unbelievable in these days of health and safety. You had no risk assessment and no knowledge other than a chat with a guy who had been in the club once. It almost beggars belief."

Fire safety department group manager Mike Partington said: "There is no doubt that it was sheer luck which prevented a more catastrophic outcome.

"When the fire service arrived there was still a number of people inside the premises and there was no sign of an organised evacuation process.

"Three people suffered burns from molten plastic and required medical attention."

Having played alongside some of the world's biggest DJs, including Italy's Mauro Picotto, and had songs played on BBC Radio 1's Judge Jools show, Cormack is now jobless and on benefits.