Romania buries fire hero as thousands protest against govt

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Protests against Romanian government post fire
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Romania buries fire hero as thousands protest against govt
A man stands in front of a line of riot police during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Children hold toy weapons during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
People stand in Victory square during protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(Andreea Alexandru, Mediafax via AP) ROMANIA OUT
A man holds a Romanian flag during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Riot policemen run to reinforce the lines during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- A hero of a Bucharest nightclub fire that killed at least 32 people was buried Tuesday in a memorial service that drew hundreds of weeping mourners, while more than 10,000 others took to the streets of the capital to protest against the government following the tragic event.

Claudiu Petre, a kind-hearted and bearded 36-year-old photographer and blogger, returned to the blaze in the Colectiv nightclub on Friday night to rescue a woman and then went back into the inferno in the basement club. He was never seen alive again.

Colleagues and friends recalled his final moments as they bade farewell to Petre, who President Klaus Iohannis decorated posthumously for his "bravery, altruism and dedication" in a memorial service lasting more than two hours.

Witnesses say the blaze erupted when a spark ignited flammable foam, sending panicked people stampeding to the single-door exit. Petre was seen dragging the girlfriend of another photographer out of the club. He then went back into the burning basement a second time.

Scene of the fire and the aftermath:

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Romanian nightclub fire
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Romania buries fire hero as thousands protest against govt
A survivor of an explosion that occurred in a club in Bucharest, Romania, is led away from the blast scene wrapped in a thermal blanket early Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. An explosion and ensuing flames on a stage at a Bucharest nightclub on Friday left more than 20 people dead and over 150 hospitalized with injuries, Romania's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A survivor of an explosion that occurred in a club in Bucharest, Romania, cries, wrapped in a thermal blanket outside the blast scene early Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. An explosion and ensuing flames on a stage at a Bucharest nightclub on Friday left more than 20 people dead and over 150 hospitalized with injuries, Romania's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Forensic workers collect items outside the site of an explosion that occurred in a club in Bucharest, early Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. An explosion and ensuing flames on a stage at a Bucharest nightclub on Friday left more than 20 people dead and over 100 hospitalized with injuries, Romania's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Emergency service and police forces collect evidence near a club in Bucharest October 31, 2015, after an explosion. More than 20 people died and dozens were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place Friday evening at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. Romanian Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea announced that there are at least 26 dead. AFP PHOTO ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency service and police forces block the area near a club in Bucharest October 31, 2015, after an explosion. More than 20 people died and dozens were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place Friday evening at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. Romanian Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea announced that there are at least 26 dead. AFP PHOTO ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency services gather near a club in Bucharest October 31, 2015, after an explosion. More than 20 people died and dozens were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place Friday evening at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. Romanian Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea announced that there are at least 26 dead. AFP PHOTO ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
A child wears a Halloween hat sits in a vehicle, as the adults accompanying her light candles and lay flowers outside the compound that housed the nightclub where a fire occurred in the early morning hours in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Hundreds of young people had gone clubbing at the hip Colectiv nightclub Friday night to enjoy a free concert by the Goodbye to Gravity metal band but the evening ended in horror, as the inferno caused a panic that killed tens of people and injured many others.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Emergency service and police forces collect evidence near a club in Bucharest October 31, 2015, after an explosion. More than 20 people died and dozens were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place Friday evening at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. Romanian Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea announced that there are at least 26 dead. AFP PHOTO ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Survivors of an explosion that occurred in a club in Bucharest, are led away from the blast scene wrapped in a thermal blanket early Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. An explosion and ensuing flames on a stage at a Bucharest nightclub on Friday left more than 20 people dead and over 150 hospitalized with injuries, Romania's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Emergency service and police forces collect evidence near a club in Bucharest October 31, 2015, after an explosion. More than 20 people died and dozens were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place Friday evening at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. Romanian Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea announced that there are at least 26 dead. AFP PHOTO ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
A victim of the fire at a club is transported to an emergency hospital in Bucharest on October 31, 2015. More than 20 people died and dozens were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place Friday evening at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. Romanian Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea announced that there are at least 26 dead. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREEA TANASE (Photo credit should read ANDREEA TANASE/AFP/Getty Images)
CORRECTS TO REMOVE REFERENCE OF EXPLOSION - A person injured by a fire that occurred in a club in Bucharest, Romania, is loaded into an ambulance at the city's emergency hospital early Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. A heavy metal band's pyrotechnical show sparked a deadly fire Friday at a Bucharest nightclub, killing more than 20 people and injuring scores of the club's mostly youthful patrons, officials and witnesses said. (AP Photo)
People wait in line to donate blood to help the victims of a fire in a club in Bucharest, Romania on October 31, 2015. Romania was plunged into mourning after 27 people were killed and nearly 200 injured when a fire ripped through an underground nightclub in Bucharest on October 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
People light candles to commemorate the victims outside the nightclub Colectiv in Bucharest on October 31, 2015, a day after a mortal fire. At least 27 people were killed and more than 160 injured after a fire ripped through a nightclub in Bucharest late on Friday, in one of the worst accidents to hit the Romanian capital. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Women light candles outside a club where a fire broke out the night before in Bucharest, Romania, on October 31, 2015. Romania was plunged into mourning after 27 people were killed and nearly 200 injured when a fire ripped through an underground nightclub in Bucharest on October 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand in front of a club where a fire broke out the night before in Bucharest, Romania, on October 31, 2015. Romania was plunged into mourning after 27 people were killed and nearly 200 injured when a fire ripped through an underground nightclub in Bucharest on October 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI (Photo credit should read ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
A young girl brings flowers at a memorial makeshift outside the nightclub Colectiv in Bucharest on October 31, 2015, a day after a fire broke up. At least 27 people were killed and more than 160 injured after a fire ripped through a nightclub in Bucharest late on Friday, in one of the worst accidents to hit the Romanian capital. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
People light candles at a memorial makeshift outside the nightclub Colectiv in Bucharest on October 31, 2015, a day after a fire broke up. At least 27 people were killed and more than 160 injured after a fire ripped through a nightclub in Bucharest late on Friday, in one of the worst accidents to hit the Romanian capital. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Youth hold eachother as they commemorate a friend among the victims outside the nightclub Colectiv in Bucharest on October 31, 2015, a day after a mortal fire. At least 27 people were killed and more than 160 injured after a fire ripped through a nightclub in Bucharest late on Friday, in one of the worst accidents to hit the Romanian capital. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
A Romanian police officer guard the entrance of the nightclub Colectiv in Bucharest on October 31, 2015, a day after a fire broke up inside the club. At least 27 people were killed and more than 160 injured after a fire ripped through a nightclub in Bucharest late on Friday, in one of the worst accidents to hit the Romanian capital. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends mourn for the victims of a fire and stampede at the 'Colectivu' night club in Bucharest on November 1, 2015. Thousands of people gathered in a silent walk to the place of the club to lay flowers and light candles. Romanian media slammed as 'irresponsible' both authorities and the owners of a nightclub where a fire and stampede left 29 dead and nearly 200 injured during the night to October 31, 2015, as hearings on the tragedy were set to begin. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
People cry while leaving the main forensic institute in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015 as families started receiving the bodies of their loved ones after they were identified. As the nation entered its second day of mourning, thousands paid their respects at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharestâs 4th district, scene of mayhem and tragedy Friday night when a fire engulfed the venue, causing a panic that killed tens of people and injured many others, raising serious questions about fire regulations and safety procedures in Romania. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A man cries while hugging a woman as relatives and friends wait for victims identification outside the main forensic institute in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, following a nightclub fire in the early morning hours. Hundreds of young people had gone clubbing at the hip Colectiv nightclub Friday night to enjoy a free concert by the Goodbye to Gravity metal band but the evening ended in horror, as the inferno caused a panic.(AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
A woman cries as her partner comforts her outside the Colectiv nightclub, during a mourning march joined by thousands in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. As the nation entered its second day of mourning, thousands paid their respects at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharestâs 4th district, scene of mayhem and tragedy Friday night when a fire engulfed the venue, causing a panic that killed tens of people and injured many others, raising serious questions about fire regulations and safety procedures in Romania. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A girl cries while standing with others, lit by burning candles, outside the compound that housed a nightclub where a fire occurred in the early Saturday in Bucharest, Romania, to pay respects to the victims, 24 hours after the accident Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Flames spread quickly through the crowded basement club, trapping many and triggering a stampede, making it the deadliest nightclub blaze in Romanian history. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
People, lit by burning candles, stand outside the compound that housed a nightclub where a fire occurred in the early Saturday in Bucharest, Romania, to pay respects to the victims, marking 24 hours after the accident Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Flames spread quickly through the crowded basement club, trapping many and triggering a stampede, making it the deadliest nightclub blaze in Romanian history. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
People, lit by burning candles, stand outside the compound that housed a nightclub where a fire occurred in the early Saturday in Bucharest, Romania, to pay respects to the victims, 24 hours after the accident Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Flames spread quickly through the crowded basement club, trapping many and triggering a stampede, making it the deadliest nightclub blaze in Romanian history. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Candles are layed down in the memory of victims two days after a fire accident at the Colectivu club in Bucharest November 1, 2015. Thousands of people gathered in a silent walk to the place of the club to lay flowers and light candles. Romanian media slammed as 'irresponsible' both authorities and the owners of a nightclub where a fire and stampede left 29 dead and nearly 200 injured, as hearings on the tragedy were set to begin. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Candles are layed down in the memory of victims two days after a fire accident at the Colectivu club in Bucharest November 1, 2015. Thousands of people gathered in a silent walk to the place of the club to lay flowers and light candles. Romanian media slammed as 'irresponsible' both authorities and the owners of a nightclub where a fire and stampede left 29 dead and nearly 200 injured, as hearings on the tragedy were set to begin. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
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The nightclub's three owners have been detained for questioning, and dozens of people remain hospitalized with serious burns.

Public anger about the nightclub fire came to the fore later Tuesday as some 10,000 Romanians protested against the government demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and the mayor of the district where Colectiv was located.

Anger has been brewing for some time in Romania against the government, which many perceive as being corrupt, and Friday's fire has added to the discontent. The protesters, who briefly scuffled with ant-riot police, were demanding that authorities punish people deemed responsible for the blaze, the deadliest of its kind in the country's history.

Popular and respected among rockers and photographers, Petre, an only child who was unmarried, was a physics graduate who made a living from an IT business.

Best friend Alexandra Siru, 30, said he was "an intelligent person with a big heart."

Another friend, photographer Valentin Diaconescu, 41, told The Associated Press he had seen the first fireworks show at the club together with Petre before leaving the concert to cover another event.

"The last conversation I had with him was about London, where he'd gone about two weeks ago, to take photos of a band called Coma," he recalled.

The patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church made a surprise visit to the site of the memorial service, entering the church by the back gate, thus avoiding mourners who have been critical of the church for failing to address public grief unlike clerics from other churches. Patriarch Daniel told reporters there was a hostile attitude toward the church and people need to calm down in the wake of the nightclub fire.

Outside the St. Dumitru church, dozens of leather-jacketed rockers, carrying mauve chrysanthemums, men sporting beards, ponytails and pierced ears, smoked and fumed about criticism directed at their music and lifestyle by some Romanians. Only friends and family were allowed into the courtyard of the church in a hardscrabble district of the capital.

In a tribute to Petre's popularity, friends said they felt his spirit was still among them.

"He was -- no he is -- a wonderful person, cheerful, he helped everyone, he was the life and soul of the party," Diaconescu said. "He is all of those things. I don't want to talk about him as if he's gone."

Romania to Mourn Victims of Bucharest Nightclub Blaze
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