Thread: Rhode Island night club burns.....

Pam - 2/21/2003 at 12:54 PM

Rhode Island Nightclub Blaze Kills At Least 39
Officials Find Bodies Heaped In Doorways

POSTED: 6:28 a.m. EST February 21, 2003
UPDATED: 7:27 a.m. EST February 21, 2003

WEST WARWICK, R.I. -- At least 39 people are dead in a nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., and there are fears the toll will go far higher, NBC 30 Connecticut News reported

At least 164 people have been hurt and taking to hospitals as far away as Boston. A fire captain said that the bodies of as many as 39 people have been found inside the club, many near the front door. They were apparently caught in a frantic rush toward the exits when the fire broke out.

The fire is being blamed on a pyrotechnics display put on as part of a concert by the rock group, Great White. Flames quickly engulfed the one-story building.

Chief Charles Hall, of the West Warwick Fire Department, said that the fire spread rapidly throughout the building.

"The building was fully engulfed inside of 3 minutes," Hall said.

Hall said that the positioning of the bodies showed the "panic" and "chaos" that filled the club after the fire started.

Great White singer Jack Russell said that he checked with the club's manager before the show and got a go ahead for the fireworks. But he said he could feel the heat of the flames on stage, adding "This place went up like the Fourth of July."

"The fire spread really fast," Russell told NBC 30's Alex Boyer.

NBC 30 Connecticut News reported from the scene that the fire broke out about 11 p.m. at a club called The Station. Video from the scene showed heavy smoke coming from the building. The fire was brought under control about 12:45 a.m.

Witnesses estimated there were 300 to 400 people in the club. Witnesses said patrons ran for exits and broke windows to escape the flames.

The station reported that Kent Hospital treated at least 40 patients, according to spokesman Brian Wallin. Rhode Island Hospital reported it treated 60 patients. Dr. Selim Suner said the hospital was transferring 10 patients to regional burn centers. Suner said the victims suffered severe burns to the face and airways. He described some of the injuries as life-threatening.

All available ambulances in the state were called to the scene.

Russell told the TV station that the fire started just as the band was beginning its first song. Russell described the walls as being covered in some type of foam. He said he turned around to see the ceiling and walls on fire.

Rusty - 2/21/2003 at 01:07 PM

That's just terrible. In my opinion, the club owner is going to be at fault here. Anytime there are pyrotechnics involved in a show or revue, it is the responsibility of the owner of the venue to notify and have the fire inspector (or representative of the fire chief) review plans and issue approval before the event can take place. However, it is also my opinion that the person in charge of the production of the display should have been competant enough to examine the venue and take into account such things as ceiling height, mechanical capabilities (exhaust systems) and materials used in construction of walls and ceiling, This isn't the kind of production that should be left to a fireworks enthusiast. It will be interesting to see if there was a license for pyrotechnics issued for this show or venue in the first place.

My sympathies to the victims and their families.

ChicWicked - 2/21/2003 at 01:07 PM

I am so sad to hear the news this morning, its all over the news and I'm in FL now. I have been to that club a few times, The Station, and its so crazy to see it on the news!

ScottyVII - 2/21/2003 at 02:31 PM

This is a tragedy that never should have occured. Why can't people use common sense? There should have been no pyrotechnics in a building that small.

musichick3 - 2/21/2003 at 04:16 PM

I was thinking the same thing Scotty. Why would you have that sort of show in a small place. I'm going to a venue tomorrow night (no pyrotechnics), but I have a good mind to ask if the fire exits are easily accessible to everyone in case of an emergency...

fast43 - 2/21/2003 at 04:36 PM

Jack Russell says they got permission to use pyro. There was someone with the bar that was saying on CNN that they didn't have permission to use pyro.

Pam - 2/21/2003 at 04:51 PM

They had permission from the club owner but never obtained a permit from the fire marshall. There were four exits too and most people only knew of two. It is being said that the other two were obstructed.
This is just awful. I saw some of the video footage on TV from inside the venue when the fire first started. Very frightening to watch. God bless those people and their families and the band who have most likely lost their guitarist.

ChicWicked - 2/21/2003 at 06:04 PM

I can't get over the fact that there was a huge explosion at an oil refinery in NY, and the flames were shotting a couple hundred feet into the air, and there were no fatalities, and a small club catches on fire and 65 people are killed!! It blows my mind, and really saddens my heart. my heart gos out to all of the people involved with that.

fschiazza - 2/21/2003 at 06:08 PM

chic, FYI, there was 1 fatality (according to the report I read) and one more person is in the ER with extensive burns...

ChicWicked - 2/21/2003 at 06:32 PM

Oh, I didnt know that. thanks Fschiazza. Stilll a crazy comparison though.

fschiazza - 2/21/2003 at 06:38 PM

Definitely... Actually, I can't help but think that the fire, for all the coverage it's getting, wasn't that bad... I mean, the only way a story touches me is if someone dies. Regardless of how big the blaze was, only 1 person died, as compared to the 54+ that died in the club...

Tragic stuff...

ChicWicked - 2/21/2003 at 06:55 PM

I just heard the toll is up to 75 now! OMG!!!

finsky - 2/21/2003 at 06:59 PM

Now, how many folks were victims of the fire, & how any were victims of being trampled when people ran for the exit?

75? Ridiculous.

fschiazza - 2/21/2003 at 07:10 PM reports "at least 85" are confirmed dead...

That's just mind-boggling!

[Edited on 2/21/2003 by fschiazza]

ChicWicked - 2/21/2003 at 07:22 PM

OMG!!!! Its just so awful! I was born and raised in RI, I wonder if anyone I know was in there??

TerriB - 2/21/2003 at 07:46 PM now says at least 85. What a tragedy.

carlosofcoronado - 2/21/2003 at 08:10 PM

Howdy folks, I posted something on the GB...........but it can't hurt to share

Has someone checked out the Beacon for safety measures, back up lighting, evacuation plans, exits, fire escapes, extinguishers, etc., etc.

One hopes that the Beacon theatre would be very safe, but it just takes one act of negligence, stupidity, or even worse, malice, to make a tragedy.

I for one hope that the ABB insists upon and personally inspect all emergency provisions at the theater......Anyone gettting a sense of that as process?


fast43 - 2/21/2003 at 08:34 PM

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I have always looked for every exit when I go somewhere. I hope everyone on this board who doesn't look, starts now.

bumba - 2/21/2003 at 08:57 PM

It just passed fire inspection too. Hows that for cruel irony.

Argie - 2/21/2003 at 10:29 PM

OMG!!!! Its just so awful! I was born and raised in RI, I wonder if anyone I know was in there??

I'm a native of Rhode Island, born and raised, moved in '96. Some of my buds frequent the Station on a regular basis, and I got in touch with all of them. What I want to know is where was the fire sprinkler system. That would have probably stopped the fire. As of 5:00 the count is up to 95 killed. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victems and their families.

Rusty - 2/21/2003 at 10:37 PM

A building of that type, built in the year it is not required to be sprinklered (that's the term for a building with fire sprinklers). I would be interested in finding out if the number of occupants (patrons in this case) exceeded the number approved by the fire marshall for this building. I went to a show at an indoor venue about 6 years ago and left (even after having paid 25 bucks each for two tickets) almost as soon as I got there because the place was a sardine can. Promoters are known for "fudging" the number of tickets sold in order to sell more tickets.

Call me paranoid, but whenever I board a plane I not only look for the nearest exit -I walk over and touch it. When I check into a hotel I look to see if the room is sprinklered, then I take a little walk to find where all of the exits are.

There's a saying among firefighters: "don't make an ash of yourself".

Pam - 2/21/2003 at 10:44 PM

Unfortunately there did not have to be a sprinkler system because it was such a small venue. This really sucks that this had to happen but there are a lot of new rules that will be applied to these small places and there are many of them around this way.
Argie, glad that you got in touch with friends today and know that they are safe. I have friends around there too. It's pretty close to here.

cleaneduphippy - 2/21/2003 at 10:55 PM

Just found out the death toll is 95, this is not counting all those who's burns are going to leave them maimed and disfigured. My question is, who's responsible here, the club manager for telling the band that it was alright to use the pyros, or the band itself, for not having the common sense to see that they were in a wooden building without a sprinkler system and not bothering to ask whether or not the club had a permit from the fire department to use the pyro displays. The common thread here between the tragedy in R.I. and Chicago is people not using simple common sense. These tragedies should have never had occured.

KAZIUP - 2/21/2003 at 10:56 PM

I understand in a panic stricken environment things are crazy but I'm really surprised at the number of people that did not make it out.
I've been to so many places over the years where you see exits chained or locked or blocked or whatever...don't understand...I think they do this to keep people out but in contrast everyone is locked in!!

onewayout - 2/21/2003 at 11:33 PM

I feel really bad for all of the folks that were killed or otherwise hurt. One thing I have to question is why GW were using any type, size or kind of pyrotechnics in such a small place to begin with. This, to me, is not showing a whole lot of common sense. I see why the owners of the place allowed it; they were just trying to line their greedy little pockets. The band or their manager should have told them not to use the pyrotechnics in this small of a club. Both parties are wholly responsible for this tragedy. I can still see Jack Russell blaming it on the club owners for some sort of flammable wall coverings.

bluefox - 2/22/2003 at 12:14 AM

Rusty, I agree with you about always checking out the exits where you are....I travel alot on of the things that I always check as Rusty says is the exit stairs from the floor that I am staying on...another thing that I do is to count the number of doors from my room to the exit door...I do that in case there is thick smoke and I have to crawl , I can count the doors and know when I reach the exit door...I will be doing that at the Beacon Hotel....

This is the 2nd club incident in a week...when the first occurred, my first thoughts was of my concern for my safety at Warren's Christmas Jam in Dec 2001....the security did nothing to keep the crowd from having the aisles friends and I located the closest exit in case something had occurred, which thank goodness it did not.

We all need to be aware of our surroundings at all times , our survival may depend on it one day.

PhotoRon286 - 2/22/2003 at 01:31 AM

When I was in Houston, we had several small-time acts that used pyro. They had to test the stuff during the day to make sure it was a small enough "display" for the room. Of course we were a two-story club, and the stage ceiling was huge. We did, however, ignore the capacity rating on numerous occasions. We were rated for 850 people, and we sold 1500 tickets for Cheap Trick. The Houston Fire Marshalls were there to keep the stairways and aisles clear, but they sure didn't count heads. The Chicago incident was a little more familiar. I managed a club whose patrons were 99% African-American. It was all we could do to keep people from sneaking in the side doors and bringing in their own liqour. The biggest problem we had was folks opening emerg. exits to let their friends in without paying the cover charge. Half of the paid admissions didn't buy drinks at the bar, they snuck in their own! I can see why that Chicago club's owner may have (wrongly) locked or chained some exits.
No matter what the specifics, this is a huge tragedy for folks who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Butchboy - 2/22/2003 at 06:01 AM

OWO, I agree with you man. If you watched the video, it looked like the lead singer could reach up and touch the ceiling with his hands. It's just retarded to try use pyro in a place like that. Another thing I didn't notice, or the news failed to mention, was that no one inside the place tried to extinguish the fire. There had to be some CO2 or water bottles around. I really hate it for all the families and friends, but the think the club and the band are going to lose alot of money or this one.

Rusty - 2/22/2003 at 08:50 PM

I'm sure that Butchboy didn't mean that the club owner and band "losing a lot of money" outweighed the seriousness of the loss of life and grief to the families of the victims.

The band's singer says that he had the permission of the club owner to use pyro in the show, something the club owner denies. I do wonder if there wasn't a "we're not giving you permission -wink, wink" type of agreement implied. Either way, you have to wonder about the sanity, or at least the common sense of anybody who would set off fireworks in a wood-framed building filled past legal capacity with people.

A lot of people have expressed shock that the building wasn't required to have a sprinkler system. You have to keep in mind that this building is over 60 years old. When it was built it was unfathomable that it would be used to house an indoor fireworks display.

I work with a lot of people in the building codes industry. A former city fire inspector told me that whenever there is an indoor show or assembly where pyrotechnics will be used, representatives from the fire marshal’s office (i.e. a fire inspector) will come out on the day of the show. At that time, samples of every type of pyrotechnical device that is to be used in the show will be detonated. Obviously if this had happened the only loss would have been the building, which was apparently constructed of matches.

I wonder what the ASTM or UL ratings for the wall coverings, curtains and ceiling tiles were? It's also interesting that two of the recent venues played by the band have complained that they used pyro without permission.

I predict that the following people will be named in lawsuits:

*the band (Great White) and their management;
*the club owner;
*the concert promoter;
*the manufacturer of the acoustic wall tiles;
*the manufacturer of the ceiling tiles; and
*the city of West Warick, RI.

In my opinion, the city of West Warwick bears the least amount of culpability. I apologize if my interest in this story seems morbid. I'm really just shocked and outraged over this.

God bless the victims, the survivors and their families. God help Great White and the owners of that club.

DerekFromCincinnati - 2/23/2003 at 12:30 AM

The recent club deaths reminds me of the close call I had in 1979. I was at the infamous Who concert here in Cincinnati. We had approached the main entrance after getting there early and for what ever eason decided to walk around to the side and see if we could get in through a side door. If we had waded in as we had planned in the front to the main entrance we would have been right in thick of it. Especially considering that we had a Mardi Gras under our belt and knew how to wade into a crowd and get to where we wanted to go effectively. We had planned to split up and charge in, but decided to go to the side doors at the last minute.

The concert was great, but halfway into it one of the guys I went with had a brother who worked the concession stands at the concert and he found us and said that the word was that 6 people had died out front. He was younger than us so we brushed it off as a rumour.But, you could tell that the Who's encore was not done with the same energy as the rest of the show, but we did not think nothing of it.

When we walked out of the concert we were confronted with TV cameras and lights everywhere. We just thought it was normal news fare. The bodies and area had long been cleaned up so there was no sign of the tragedy. We drove home listening to an 8-track, if I remember right, and did not turn on the radio. I lived in a bachelor pad with three other guys and the one friend of mine that did not go to the concert came running out of the house upset, saying how glad he as to see us. He then let us know what had happened.

The news of the tragedy was told on Monday Night Football that night and it was seen and heard about worldwide. As a result our house had phone calls coming in from all over. The phone rang off the hook. It was obvious that I would have went to the concert, and everyone's relatives called one after another, incessantly, to see if we were alright.The friend left at the house did not no if we were alright so everyone was worried a bunch. We each had to take turns answering the phone and calling everybody we knew to let them know we were still alive. Actually a couple of months before the Who concert was a Led Zeppelin concert where I thought it was going to happen then. The crush was unreal, my feet left the ground at times.

So, these recent events do make me remember my good fortune, close call, and the good folks that died from simply going to a concert.

Derek H

Pam - 2/23/2003 at 07:43 PM

There is going to be a memorial service at the site of the disaster tonight for those who were lost. It is being called "Prayer Unplugged" and everyone was invited to bring an acoustic and play if they wish to do so. So if anyone not near there might want to participate, get out the acoustic tonight and play a little tune for those who have gone to fly with the Angels.

ChicWicked - 2/24/2003 at 02:01 PM

Just thought I would post this link of all the names of the people identified so far. So sad, it's such a awful awgul awful tradgedy. I am still and will forever be very saddened by this.

My heart goes out to everyone

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