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UPDATEDx3: Fire at Rihanna's Dallas show cuts concert short

Posted 11:42pm on Friday, Jul. 08, 2011

Pop superstar Rihanna's return to Dallas was cut short by a small fire above the American Airlines Center stage Friday night.

The fire, which broke out as the singer was finishing the ballad California King Bed and descending below the stage for a costume change, appeared to be caused by a malfunctioning pyrotechnic element near a lighting truss. (There were small showers of sparks deployed behind Rihanna at the conclusion of Bed.) Although the fire grew rapidly and scattered some flaming debris upon the stage, the production crew moved quickly and extinguished the flames. Nevertheless, the show was ended, with audible jeers and cries of "I still love you, Rihanna," as the audience of a little over 12,500 was asked to leave the venue quickly and calmly.

"There were no injuries and the arena was evacuated in an orderly fashion," said venue spokeswoman Jenny Walker. (Promoter Live Nation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) Dallas Fire Department trucks were seen leaving the venue as cars streamed out onto Victory Avenue. (Here's a shot I took of the arena's interior after the fire was extinguished.)

The abrupt end to the show came after Rihanna's flight into Dallas was delayed due to weather in New York City, forcing the start of the performance to be delayed nearly an hour. She was originally scheduled to perform at what's now known as Gexa Energy Pavilion last summer, as part of her "Last Girl on Earth" tour, but scrapped that date and several others because of poor ticket sales.

There's no word yet whether the show, part of her ongoing "Loud" tour, will be rescheduled -- it's possible; Rihanna had about seven songs left to perform -- or if refunds will be offered. The announcement asking the audience to leave stated "we will make accommodations later." For her part, Rihanna left the door open on Twitter: "We set the stage on FYAH [sic] tonight!!!" she Tweeted minutes after the show was officially ended. "I'm so pissed, I was havin' so much fun wit y'all too!!! I gotta come back man!!" She later Tweeted that she was "heading into a production meeting to find out exactly what happened."

For a minute-by-minute account, check out my Twitter feed. I'll update this story as more information becomes available and Click here for my review of the concert.

UPDATE: The Dallas Voice has kept up with the Dallas Fire Department's investigation of Friday's small conflagration, reporting today that the DFD has confirmed the source: A small chair, up in the lighting rigging, caught fire because of sparks from the pyrotechnics deployed at the conclusion of California King Bed. One person, supposedly associated with the production team, suffered a minor burn Friday, but declined to go to the hospital. There's still no word from either Rihanna's representatives or Live Nation as to what, if anything, will be done for attendees seeking refunds and/or a make-up show.

UPDATEx2: Late Monday, Live Nation's Dallas rep announced the following, regarding Rihanna's show: "The show will not be rescheduled. There will be no refunds." My guess is these folks aren't gonna be too pleased.

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