Fire Marshal: Blue Bayou did not break fire code at concert

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Despite complaints about overcrowding, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal said Blue Bayou amusement park was not overcapacity at the Panic! At The Disco concert on Saturday, July 11.

Fire Marshal Butch Browning said the 5,000 people who went to the show is well below the concert area's 8,700 capacity.

"There was open area in the back of the viewing area that no one was at. We actually looked at some photographs that showed people sitting on blankets," said Browning.

The investigation comes after complaints that Blue Bayou employees had no control of the crowd, did not enforce metal detectors and some people had trouble finding bottled water. That lead to reports of dehydration and of one woman having a seizure.

"That was a pretty bad experience all around," said the band's head of security, Zack Cloud Hall.

Hall is taking to social media to vent his frustration. He said the park would not accommodate the band's request to have a barricade between the crowd and the stage which the band said was in their contract. He said he spoke to Blue Bayou's director of marketing.

"She just shut down. She's like, 'Nope, we're not doing that. We're not bringing in a barricade. I don't care,'" said Hall.

Panic! At the Disco supports what Hall is saying.

"As head of security he is always looking out for our safety and security, and always goes above and beyond and extends his service to our extended Panic! family - Our fans. Last weekend that's exactly what he did," said the band in a statement.

Officials say most complaints that followed the concert have nothing to do with the fire code.

Along with capacity, the only other way Fire Marshal Browning said his office could penalize the park would be if exits were obstructed. He said they were not.

"There's five exits to that area that are not locked, that are open gates," said Browning.

Some complainers feared a bridge over Highland Rd. was going to collapse as thousands walked across it to go home. The Fire Marshal said DOTD would be the department to investigate those complaints.

However, DOTD said in a statement that the bridge "is the owner's responsibility to maintain the structure." DOTD said that's because the bridge is privately owned and does not carry motor vehicle traffic.

Attention now shifts to the July 18 show with country music star and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery.

Some complainers say they will never return to the park for fear of safety, but officials say they should not be worried.

"I can say that if they continue to follow the things that we've recommended, all five gates being opened and a capacity under 8,700, then they are safe," said Browning.

The State Fire Marshal's Office will be at the concert Saturday.

9News called Blue Bayou Thursday for a third time since Monday. The park again declined a request for an interview.

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