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Wilmington Fire cracking down on overcrowded downtown businesses

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The Wilmington Fire Department is cracking down on overcrowded bars and restaurants downtown.

Fire officials said some business owners do not pay attention to the occupancy limit. They said cramming too many people in a space means it is harder to get people out in case of an emergency.

The fire department has already charged two local businesses for overcrowding. The Rhino Club on Market Street was almost double its occupancy. They were cited, and fined more than $10,000.

“If bars aren’t using counters, it kind of throws a red flag up and proves to us that they don’t know how many people are in there,” said Wilmington Fire Chief Frank Blackley. “So we are going to go in there and check at that point.”

Most bars downtown use counters to keep track of who is walking in and out of the facility. Officials said it is the best way to avoid being cited and fined for overcrowding.

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Fire officials said some business owners do not pay attention to the occupancy limit. They said cramming too many people in a space means it is harder to get people out in case of an emergency.

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